The Sacrifice Pit dissected, and did Gygax rip off Stafford?

June 19, 2012

Significant inspiration for “The Sacrifice Pit” adventure location in Across the Wide Dark Jungle came from the cenotes near Chichen Itza and all across the Yucatan in Mexico. (Click here for some pictures I took there last year.)

What if the cenote were to be drained of water? Why did it drain? Who would do that? What would be found? That’s what guided the creation of The Sacrifice Pit. Here’s portion of it’s map:

I like to think of the “Entrance Pits” as looking something like these:

I came across some cenote maps that contain cross sections of various locations in the caverns, like the following. These really got me rolling on creating The Sacrifice Pit.

Here’s another cave map that has cross sections. I like how it is a network of passages offering multiple paths to get to where you want to go, which influenced the design of caves in the Sacrifice Pit.

What are some other modules that use cave cross sections? One of my favorites is Snakepipe Hollow, a RuneQuest module by Greg Stafford and Rudy Kraft. This map is from the Avalon Hill version of the module:

You thought Gary Gygax invented the Caves of Chaos? Nope. Snakepipe Hollow contains its own Caves of Chaos and it was originally published prior to Keep on the Borderland. I’m sure Gygax totally didn’t intend to rip off Greg Stafford.

Okay, now this post is just rambling, but I have one more relevant note. After I snapped the above pics from my copy of Snakepipe Hollow, I pulled out the hex map from the Dragon Pass war game and noticed something. Just to the northeast of Snakepipe Hollow is a Vale of Flowers. No relation to the Valley of Flowers in Across the Wide Dark Jungle! I totally didn’t intend to rip off Greg Stafford when I brainstormed the valley’s name last year.


3 Responses to “The Sacrifice Pit dissected, and did Gygax rip off Stafford?”

  1. Chawunky said

    Lovely stuff, inspiring even.

  2. Wow, I was hooked by the Caves of Chaos line, but I’m really digging all the cave maps and comparing them.

    Snakepipe hollow has interesting mapping elements in it — it really helps clarify the look of the cave in the GM’s mind.

  3. […] in the book is The Sacrifice Pit, a ready-to-play adventure location that starts out as a low-level mundane jungle hack, but gets […]

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