Morale Check

RPG Miscellany

Group 1 session 2

This session report contains SPOILERS, be warned. I have tried to present the interesting bits while leaving out any concrete details, if you want the full scoop you should buy the adventure.

We had our second session last night for Group 1. Last session I ran them through the sample adventure in the Labyrinth Lord book which served as a good introduction as it was short and had equal amounts exploration and combat. This time however I wanted to weight things towards exploration to see what the group prefers so I chose Tower of the Stargazer, an excellent module by James Edward Raggi IV of Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Before I get started with the report I would like to point out that these people are new to pen and paper role playing games, 2 of them have 1 session under their belt, and for the other 1 this was her first time playing. This module is potentially very deadly and I purposefully prepared a second, different, adventure because I expected either massive casualties or the players to get stuck or frustrated and give up. Neither of these things happened, in fact the players made it through completely unscathed while bringing home the wizards treasure!

In addition to the 2 players from last time we added another newbie to the mix. Last session Sneex the Thief was killed in a trap so his player rolled up a replacement character. Our roster is now: Ütta (Thief), Gütta (Cleric), Brann Bronzebeard (Dwarf), Benedictor (Cleric), Madge (Fighter), and Lea (Elf).

Three weeks of game time have passed since the previous adventure. Lea has spent a week learning the Detect Magic spell from Lyle the Sage while Brann has been working out his drinking elbow. The characters have had a chance to meet their new companions as they are all staying in the same inn.

A terrible storm rolls across the valley and hammers the area. The storm rages night and day; thunder booming, lightning flashing, the wind lashing and driving rain through even the tiniest of cracks in home and roof, finally coming to an end a full 48 hours after it began. As the villagers begin to emerge from their homes it is not long before people notice a patch of clear sky high up on the cliffs to the east where lightning continues to strike.

That evening the regular bar patrons gather in the Inn the talk of the town is the source of the lightning is it an old wizards tower whose magic awakens every now and then or an old abandoned monastery whos monks avarice angered their god and the lightning is his anger. Plying these men with booze in order to glean more information the party decided that the theory of the wizards tower seems more plausible as one particularly old fellow remembers when he was still a child how a wizards apprentice rode hastily through town stopping only for a quick refreshment and supplies and fleeing to the west. The PC’s decided to speak with the sage Lyle the next day and see if perhaps he had any new information.

The next morning the group headed over and spoke with Lyle where they learned that it is indeed a Wizards tower once belonging to a wizard who had a penchant for the weird and alien. Happy with this new information the party stocked up on supplies, purchased horses, mules, and a cart with their loot from the previous adventure, and headed out on the days ride to the tower.

They arrived at the tower and found the land surrounding it blasted to a colorless ash. They observed the lightning strikes for awhile before Madge spotted a body on the ground near the tower and investigated. Turning up nothing but ruined equipment and old bones the party climbed the towers stairs to the large double doors. Being suspicious of the entrance to a wizards tower Lea cast her Detect Magic spell which turned up magic on the door handles they then used the door knockers to knock which disabled the magic on the door handles and allowed them to open the doors and enter the tower.

From here they discovered an old closet where Ütta snagged some badly out of fashion cloaks and hats, and then a dining room where Ütta thiefed himself some silverware and some bottles of wine. Next up they investigated the storage under the stairs leading up to the second floor; here they discovered a set of false boxes concealing a trap door leading down into the basement and down they went.

The room they found below was crammed floor to ceiling with boxes of weird items, navigating through the room they discovered a door to the east and passed through it into a workshop of some sort littered with small vivisected animals, various instruments of science, and a sewn up human body. To the north east was an alcove with mirrors, the party made a number of attempts to experiment on the mirrors (while avoiding outright entering the alcove), all to no effect. Following that Gütta found some slides with blood on them and took a  look at one under a microscope; as she did so she felt a strange feeling wash over which forced her to make a save against magical effects which she succeeded on! They also discovered a shaft in the east wall that looked to extend all the way to the top of the tower as well as one floor below. On the wall of the shaft was a dial, after some experimentation they figured out it was an elevator but left it alone for the time being.

The party headed through a door to the south where they were set upon by 4 ghostly apparitions! Winning initiative both clerics made attempts to turn the undead, where Gütta failed Benedictor succeeded and forced the undead to flee from the power of his god, Österhaussen (Ütta and Güttas player came up with this god while creating her characters). While the ghosts cowered the remaining characters moved forward and dispatched them. They then investigated the cells that occupied this room and while they did discover some things of interest they decided that it was a better idea to leave the cells locked and head back up to the stairs to the towers second floor.

On the second floor they found little of interest other than a diary that belonged to the wizards apprentice. According to the diary the wizard had gone mad and was becoming dangerous so the apprentice sabotaged one of the wizards spells and caused him to be trapped in a magic circle, after which the apprentice fled the tower. Another set of stairs lead to the third floor, however a trickle of blood flowed down the stairs and this caused the party some concern. It was at this point that someone put forth the suggestion that the sewn up body on the lower floor was actually the remains of the apprentice and that at some point the body would animate and attack them. To prevent this Madge and Brann returned to the basement, doused the body in lamp oil and set it on fire. Having that taken care of the party climbed the stairs to the third floor.

They found their progress blocked at the top of the stairs by a door behind which Madge could hear the muffled sounds of a voice. Something was blocking the doors keyhole from the other side so Ütta used her thieves tools to push the blockage out and then attempted to pick the lock. Her attempt failed but Madge stepped up and gave the door a powerful kick, shattering the lock and opening the door. Instantly a wave of blood washed over the party and down the stairs causing Ütta and Madge to lose their footing and be carried off down the stairs, each sustaining light damage in the process. With the door now open the party gathered themselves together and entered the room.

Inside they found a circle of salt with a bumbling old wizard sporting the standard robes, pointy hat, and long white beard inside it. The confused wizard asked them to release him as his unruly apprentice thought it would be funny to trap him inside and he has been stuck for 60 years. Having none of it the party set about questioning the wizard. It didn’t take long until the wizards bumbling soft spoke manner changed to loud angry rage. He attempted to hurl magic fireballs and missiles at the party but fortunately for them they were dispersed harmlessly by the forcefield from the magic circle of salt. This room had no more stairs leading up but it did have access to the elevator shaft and so the party rode it up to the next floor.

Exiting the elevator they quickly passed through a study and an old dusty library where they found some clues to what the wizard had been researching before he was trapped in the circle. They found a room with a table, two chairs, and a forcefield covered door but they decided not to enter the room. They also found a sealed room which was very cold. In this room was a box which they opened but who’s contents they decided not to fool with. And so it was back to the elevator shaft and up to the top floor.

Stepping off the elevator they first investigated the telescope, followed by an open book relating to the wizards research, a mysterious pool, storage bins containing coal and a black powder and finally a control panel. While messing with the control panel they manage to destroy the telescope by extending it into the roof of the tower, whoopsie!

For a few minutes the party was convinced they had completely explored the tower until they remembered that there was one more floor in the basement. They rode the elevator to the bottom floor and found a room which contained a number of forcefields protecting 10 treasure chests. Behind one of the forcefields was a set of 4 levers but nobody was willing to attempt to cross through the fields. Ütta threw some of the black powder she had taken from the top floor to see if it would pass through the fields, and it did pass through the field in front of the levers but still nobody wanted to attempt to pass through a field. Frustrated the party returned to the alcove with the mirrors.

Arriving back at the alcove Benedictor threw caution to the wind and entered the alcove and stared into the second mirror! He saw infinite reflections of himself from various angles; the images assaulted his mind forcing him to make a saving throw at which he succeeded! All of a sudden the secret to bypassing the the forcefields and reaching the treasure became apparent to him. Having seen Benedictor stare into one of the mirrors Madges was raised and she trudged into the hallway and stared deeply into the third mirror.  A bright focused beam of light seared across her chest dealing 8 points of damage and almost killing her.

Deciding not to push their luck any further the party hauled the treasure from the bottom floor outside to their cart, loaded it up and trekked back to town. And so ended session 2.

To fully appreciate how well the players did you will have to read the module. I have to give them credit for playing this adventure perfectly. The whole premise of this module is to not mess around with things that you don’t need to mess around with, and they didn’t and they were successful. I can say with 99.99% certainty that my regular group of “veteran” players would have died multiple horrible deaths because they would have touched everything.

From start to finish this took 4 hours! Just four hours! Four hours to make 3 characters and play an entire module with mostly complete newbies! This would have been at least an 8 to 12 hour affair using more modern rule systems. Props to Raggi for creating an awesome adventure. If you don’t yet own it, buy it, you won’t regret it.

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