Old Game Notebook: Tweaks for "Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil"

Michael O. Varhola

The following handwritten notes from four sheets ruled 8.5 x 11 paper are about encounter areas in the Earth Temple section of the Crater Ridge Mines in the dungeon adventure Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. My group played through this for a couple of years and had a lot of fun with it, if I had to guess then I would say that these notes are probably from around 2003-04. The mines were circular, so locations 222 and 11 were actually pretty near each other. One nice thing about this re-discovery is that it lists the characters active in the adventure at the time (along with their initiative numbers during the encounter in question; I have added in brackets the names of those I am sure of). From the hatch marks it looks like the battle in area 11 lasted 12 rounds. 

218) Guards will hasten to reinforce allies in any battle in 220. 


220) Units here will be reinforced w. four zombies, all created in the desecrated area (one from the Manticore and three Trogs). 

Zombie (Large): hp 59, AC 11, +6 slam, 1d8+6. 

Zombies (Medium): hp 27, 27, 27, AC 11, +4 slam, 1d6+3. 

Additionally, six normal Trogs will act as a reserve, as will surviving Mephits, and the Trog Rogue. 


222) Centipede, Large (w. Shield of Faith, Endurance, Rage): hp 20, AC 17, Bite +4, 1d8+3 + poison (DC 16, 1d4 DEX).

Usk. will cast following spells on self, 1 per round, time permitting: 

11) Terrynegit, +10 melee, 1d8+5, AC 26, hp 77 + 14 +14 - 105. 

[Initiative Rolls]

12 Druga [Dave Thomas]

22 Ensis [Ho]

17 Rogue

14 Trog

11 Nim [my father, Michael H. Varhola]

10 Philo

10 Kord [Geoff Weber]

10 Reinforcements [characters' or monsters?]

Two additional sets of initiative numbers appear on the fourth page of this sheaf and the associated battles probably all took place between areas 222 and 11, probably in the gatehouse guarding the approaches to the Crater Ridge Mines. In the course of these skirmishes it looks like the party fought a total of 18 things with 12 hp each, probably normal Trogolodytes; four things with 20 hp each, probably Troglodytes with one or more levels of Fighter added to them; an Ogre that they somehow deafened and which failed two saving throws against something, maybe the attempt to deafen it; and things with 89 and 60 hit points each, one of which was probably the Ogre. The final set of initiative numbers mentions "Xbowmen," a strong indicator that this running battle did indeed take place in the afore-mentioned strongpoint. 


As part of my ongoing struggle to keep Skirmisher HQ/my home office under control, I have decided that it is time to do something with the hundreds of pages of handwritten game rules, ideas, and other content that I have been compiling for decades. Some of this material, in fact, goes back more than 30 years, to when my friend George and I were developing our "Skirmish Wargaming Rules." And, when I began playing D&D in 1982, the notebooks, index cards, and scraps of paper with notes and stats increased exponentially. Some of that material has ended up in one form or another in various Skirmisher products, of course, but much of it has sat fallow for many years. So, with an eye to getting some fresh use out of it, I will be incrementally posting it here -- and then disposing of the hardcopy originals. Material will be presented in the order I discover or feel like keying it in. And I reserve the right to correct misspellings and add punctuation and the like!