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The Gnoll Kings Return – Session 1

Kicking off the new 5e game I am running we had 4 players (plus me as the DM), with one more player scheduled to join us for future sessions. This adventure is based on a modified version of The Sunless Citadel, modifications are mostly to make the adventure fit better into the world of Mystara/Karameikos.

The first couple hours were spent on character creation and we ended up with:

  • Bredin: a 46 year old Human (Traladaran) Fighter. Bredin has recently retired from the city guard in Penhaligon and moved to Stallanford.
  • Markus: an 18 year old Human (mixed Traladarn/Thyatian) Cleric who is a member of the Church of Traladara. Markus is from an extremely poor family native to the area around Stallanford. His family has scrimped and saved to outfit him as their one hope of a better life.
  • Sven: a 21 year old Human (Traladaran) Fighter. Sven has recently travelled from the mountains to the North in search of money and adventure looking to make good on his promise to raise his family name to great reknown.
  • Tifa: a 65 year old Forest Gnome Wizard. Originally from Highforge Tifa has recently arrived in Stallanford searching for adventure and answers about the mystery.

And here is how the night went down once we got to the adventuring:

  • It is evening, midsummer. Sven, Markus, and Tifa are hanging out at a table at the Ol’ Boar Inn, Bredin is sitting at the bar nearby, chuckling to himself as he eavesdrops on the “young ‘uns” chatting about their search for adventure.
  • Bradley Elrich, a local man familiar to Markus and Bredin, enters the inn and approaches the group. He beseeches them to go searching for his son Braford and Brafords new wife Sherwin. Braford, a candidate for the Order of the Griffin, had been given a task to investigate recent beastman sitings near an old ravine not far from Stallanford, he hasn’t been seen in 9 days. No reward is offered but the group agrees, in search of adventure.
  • The party finds the ravine without incident, notes that there has been some humanoid activity in the area, and they begin their descent into the ravine. A surprise attack by a group of giant rats results in some fast-beating hearts but no real damage to the party.
  • Now at the bottom of the ravine the party heads into a ruined citadel.
  • Soon the party encounters the remains of a battle. Beastmen, halfling sized humanoid beasts mixed with various forest creatures, lie dead. Mysterious runes on the wall are indecipherable by anyone in the party. The party pushes deeper into the citadel, encountering many serpent like carvings and statues along the way.
  • The party comes across a fish-man, gurgle-sobbing into his bedroll. Bredin manages to surprise the fish-man who nervous-fish-farts and begs to not be harmed. This is Gurgluk, a member of the fish-clan who currently occupies this level of the citadel. He was tasked as the keeper of the clans hunting spider but the beastmen have stolen the spider and Gurgluk has been shamed. For answers to the parties questions Gurgluk insists the party follows him to the clan leader, Lurl-Lurl.
  • Passing many fish-man guards the party is led to Lurl-Lurl on her serpentine throne. From Lurl-Lurl the party discovers:
    • Lurl-Lurl will reward the party if they can recover the lost hunting spider as well as reactivate all of the water fountains on this level of the citadel,
    • The beastmen have come to the citadel in the last few months, although other evidence shows they may also have been here years ago,
    • A giant beastman (gnoll) that goes by the nickname “The Reviver” inhabits the lower level of the citadel, the beastmen are his servants,
    • The fish-men are here because long ago magical waters once flowed here and this area was a holy site of theirs,
    • The fish-men are aware of other humans passing through roughly a week ago but they had no interaction with them,
  • The party agrees to try to find the stolen hunting spider as well as reactivate the fountains as they continue their search for Braford and Sherwin. Lurl-Lurl sends Gurgluk with the party to help with the recovery of the hunting spider.
  • With Gurgluk as torchbearer the party is shown a shortcut and quickly makes their way into beastmen occupied territory. Bredin kicks in a door (and hurts his knee in the process) and they catch 3 beastmen offguard and quickly dispatch them although in the ensuing melee one of the beastmen lands a painful bite on Bredins bad knee. They push on further…
  • Investigating a large hazy room Bredin overhears many voices coming from the West. Tifa is able to make out bits and pieces of an argument over whos turn it is to empty the chamber waste.
  • This time it is Svens turn to kick in the door and once again the party surprises the beastmen, unfortunately for them there are a dozen of them in the room. A mad fight breaks out, Markus and Sven slay beastmen with every swing of their weapons, Tifa puts five down with a well rolled Sleep spell, Bredin, his knee causing him no end of trouble does nothing but move some air with his warhammer.
  • Just as the party has whittled the beastman numbers down to two one of them makes a mad dash and opens a door to the north west, two hobgoblins join the fight! One seems extra large and scary wielding a huge maul, the other smaller and preparing to cast spells:
    • The larger one strikes Sven with a blow that would have killed a lesser man but Svens defensive abilities save his life,
    • The shaman hits Markus and Tifa with a curse, weakening their combat abilities,
    • Markus wades into the fighting and follows up with a Thunderwave spell which kills the remaning beastmen and causes the shaman to lose concentration on her spell,
    • The party is able to quickly take down the large hobgoblin while the shaman runs looking to escape down a large shaft. Just as the shaman is vaulting into the shaft Sven hits her with a throwning axe which they think kills her, but if it doesn’t the fall down the shaft surely will,
  • The party loots and returns to the safety of the fish-mens territory to rest.

Each party member earned 200 xp, they will almost certainly level up after the next session.

They came away with a few hundred gold pieces worth of loot, a healing potion, and a “pungent ungent” which requires some time spent analyzing.

The party tore through this level of the dungeon, taking just about the most efficient path possible to the second level of the citadel.

So far none of their goals have been achieved:

  • Fountains reactivated: 0
  • Braford/Sherwin found: 0
  • Hunting Spiders found: 0

Until next time…


Group 1 session 4

(I wrote this session report before the one for session 3 so its in the old very long winded format, I won’t be writing session reports this way anymore, unless of course there is some huge public outcry about the change and I really don’t see that happening ;))

I continue trying new things (rules variations) to see what works and what doesn’t for this group. For combat I returned to spell casters having to declare if they are casting a spell, not which spell or targets, before the initiative dice are rolled.

We had a few deaths last session. This seems to be the norm, 1 or 2 deaths. I’m not sure if this has something to do with the players playing two characters a piece, I don’t think it does, I think its just a learning curve thing for the most part.

With the new characters added our roster is now: Benedictor (Cleric 1), Brann (Dwarf 2), Olish (Cleric 1), Spencer (Elf 1), Gutta (Cleric 1), Utta (Thief 2), Madge (Fighter 2), Danasi (Magic-User 1). Spencer and Danasi being the two new characters this session.

Spencer arrived as a traveller staying in the inn. Just another Elf out looking for adventure.

Danasi arrive looking for Lea the elf who died in the groups last adventure. Danasi and Lea studied magic under the same mentor and developed a relationship until Lea was subjected to a curse that sapped her beauty and being ashamed of her new looks ran away. Danasi had arrived seeking out Lea to inform her that the warlock that had placed the curse on her had been captured and if she returned with him the curse would be lifted. Crushed to find his love deceased Danasi joined the party with nothing else to live for.

In the months before the current adventure presented itself the Magic-Users of the group took to teaching each other spells and copying spells from some scrolls they had found. Spencer experimented with a wand given to him by members of the party and discovered that it appeared to be a fire extinguisher spraying white foam in a 15′ cone. Utta was contacted by the local thieves guild as he owed them money for bringing lost treasures back into their domain to the tune of 1% of the value of the recovered loot. Utta paid up and vowed to have as little as possible to do with the guild.

The adventure began when in the middle of the night a messenger arrive at the inn door where the party stays. Goodwife Jopa, the local healer, asked for “the dwarf”, Brann, to come to her hut. Being suspicious the entire party geared up and headed out. Arriving at the hut Brann was surprised to find his cousin Derri Bronzebeard, mortally wounded and on deaths door. Olish aided Jopa in patching him up as well as could be and Derri opened his eyes and spoke. Derri told a grave tale of an uprising of goblinoids and other beasts that surged forth from the underdark and destroyed the ancestral home of the Bronzebeards and all that dwelled there and that he (Derri) and Brann were the only two remaining. He went on to say that he managed to grab the pieces of the legendary axe of Arnauf Bronzebeard, along with a map, before he escaped. If Brann could use the map to find the forge where Arnauf’s axe was created the axe could be reforged into a weapon Brann could use to take back Bronzebeard hall.

Gathering supplies the party saddled up and rode out the next morning on the week long journey that would take them to Kor’Barrack, the once great dwarf city of the west, somewhere in which resided the great forge where Arnaufs axe was created.

The partys path took them overland through the Blackwald forest wherein they came across the ruins of a watchtower (this is the Blackwald Morlock Den adventure I previously posted). Investigating they found a clan of morlocks had taken up residence. Initial contact with the morlocks showed them to be willing to talk and Brann was able to roughly communicate. The morlocks told them how three goblins had moved in nearby and had been hurting and killing the morlocks and forcing them to hunt and do chores for them. So much of the morlocks time was spent doing what the goblins asked they were not able to take care of their own. When the party agreed to help the morlock chieftain showed them to a pool of water deeper in the ruins where the goblins would appear whenever they wanted something.

With some experimentation the party discovered that drinking the water would teleport them to an identical pool where the hobgoblins resided. The hobgoblins, knowing the powers of the pool, put up quite a fight by using it to their advantage. It made for an interesting and frustrating fight with hobgoblins and characters teleporting between rooms and running about. In the end the party triumphed with some new bumps and bruises but no real damage. The party managed to take possession of a magical short sword +1 that had been wielded by one of the hobgoblins (Dags’ short sword of the hills). While the main danger in the ruins, the hobgoblins, had been dealt with the party still walked out one member short when in a room, filled with various fungi and lichens, Spencer decided to take a drink from a small pool filled with dirty water and small white tadpoles (WHY? I wish I knew…), needless to say the water was poisonous and he failed his save vs. poison.

A day and a half later the party emerged from the Blackwald and could now see the mountain range to the south where they would find Kor’Barrack.

The following day as they climbed a hill they could hear sounds of battle from the other side. Cresting the hill they came upon a ten neanderthals waging a losing battle against two ogres. The party immediately went into action. Madge leapt from her horse while drawing her two-handed sword and began running towards the ogres while the rest of the party drew ranged weapons. The ranged weapons peppered one of the ogres while it tried to make its way towards them batting neanderthals from his path but Utta managed to drop it with a well placed shot between the eyes just before the ogre made it into melee range. In the meantime Madge joined the ranks of the remaining neanderthals and together they brought down the remaining ogre. In the aftermath of the fighting the remaining six neanderthals thanked the party profusely and invited them back to their homes for a feast in thanks. The party graciously accepted and spent the night comfortably among new friends.

The next day they reached the foot of the mountains the party had a run in with a giant Roc, being suitably scared and impressed  the party realized they are still the low men on the totem pole.

Entering Kor’Barrack the party was greeted by a statue of a crying elf woman. Tthey proceed down the entrance tunnel. Off an alcove to the south burst five fire bats, awash in flame. The party readied their weapons as the bats swoop low but Danasi, armed with the fire extinguisher wand (taken from Spencer when he died) speaks the command word and sprays white foam all over the party and the five bats, killing the bats. Coming to the end of the tunnel the party is struck by waves of heat coming of a lake of lava that stretches as far as the eye can see. The wearing of metal armor became unbearable at this point. Across the lake the party spotted what appeared to be a boat launch with a boat floating in the lava!

Continuing on they enter a room with a large central pillar, once covered in dwarf runes it has been defaced and made impossible to read. Danasi makes a note to memorize the Read Languages spell tomorrow so he can investigate further.

Next up the party entered a room filled with crumbling and collapsing support columns occupied by a group of seven gaunt yellow flaky skinned goblinoid looking creatures. Before the creatures can react Danasi catches them all in a Sleep spell and the party exterminates them while they sleep. The strange creatures (known as Yggril) have an altar at the back of the room. Upon inspection the altar is built upon an old chest. Opening the chest the party finds a box with a plain gold ring and a vial of smoky oily liquid.

As the party continued on they entered what was once a hall of heroes filled, the statues had all been toppled and smashed and rocks littered the area. As the party made their way through the room they were ambushed by a group of four fire beetles. The fighting was tense (the players rolling extremely poorly) and they were very close to losing Brann in the fighting but the party triumphed.

In the next room the party found a broken magic circle inscribed on the floor. Inside the circle were the remains of a few day old camp fire and some discarded rations. A fire beetle, unaware of the parties approach, was nibbling at the rations. Launching a surprise attack the party (continuing their streak of bad luck) missed with five ranged attacks! The enraged beetle went on to take a chunk out of Madge before being put down. On the floor in the next room they found the body of a gnome laying next to the body of a fire beetle. In the gnomes pack was a vague map of Kor’Barrack with two rooms marked; one, the room with the pillar covered in dwarf runes, and the other in a section of they had yet to explore.  Deciding it was time for a rest the party retreated to the where they slew the Yggril and camped for the night.

Returning to where they left off they had two options: a decrepit stone bridge leading over a lake of lava or a side passage. Not liking the look of the bridge they chose the side passage.

At the end of the passage was a stuck stone door which Madge was able to force open. With the door open Utta searched and found a trap in the room but could not determine how to disable it.Throwing the gnomes body in the room triggered the trap! Iron bars in an X shape fell from the ceiling splitting the room into four pieces, in each of the four sections a door opened. From the south a group of orcs poked their heads out, one threw a javelin and the party returned fire wounding him before he ducked back inside. Seconds later the blast of a horn sounded from the south room and shortly thereafter three giant lava geckos entered from the north room. The iron bars retreated into the ceiling and the orcs ran out and mounted the lizards. Madge tried to reclose the stuck door but failed and one pair of orc and lizard moved forward to engage. The lizard wreaked havoc on the party but Danasi came through with a sleep spell that knocked out the three orcs while the rest of the party managed to kill the closes lizard (again Danasi used the wand as a weapon on the fire lizards). With their orc masters asleep the two remaining lizards turned on them and began eating them. The party quickly pushed the dead lizard out of the way and Madge was able to slam the door closed.

Once again the party retreated the room where they slew the Yggril. This time they required two days of rest to recover. In the intermediate day Danasi cast Read Languages and spent a few hours studying the rune covered pillar where he was able to discover an incantation that would allow him entrance to some locked doors deeper in the dungeon.

After resting up the party decided to head in a different direction. Looping around the lake they found another room filled with Yggril. These ones, while they took notice of the party, ignored them and continued on with their work collecting and piling stones in piles of various sizes. The party descended a set of stairs which took them to the boat launch where the Yggrill had an assembly line going loading and piling stones in the boat. Curious the party watched. After thirty minutes of rock stacking the Yggril launched the boat and began navigating the lake of lava while dropping stones over the edge of the boat. Minutes later a huge red worm 20′ in diameter and hundreds of feet long rose from the lava. The worm made its way up and down the lake before disappearing below the surface once again. The party wasted no time in getting as far away from the lake of lava as possible.

Their exploration took them to a section of the dungeon that looked like what was referenced on the gnomes map. Finding a door locked and apparently barred Danasi speaks the incantation and the door opens! One of the rooms in this area has had a cave in and there is a gaping hole in the ceiling. Madge is curious and looks up into the hole (as I knew someone would :)) and is not surprised when a green slime falls out of the darkness onto her face. Danasi acts quickly and uses his fire extinguishing wand to douse Madge in foam and slays the green slime (who would have known this wand would turn out to be so useful?). Using the gnomes map the party is able to locate a secret door which leads to the great forge where Arnaufs axe can be reforged!

Having found the forge I asked the group what they wanted to do next session:

  • skip ahead a month to the axe being reforged and continue on the way to Bronzebear hall or
  • have Brann be occupied while he forges the axe and the remainder of the party can explore the rest of Kor’Barrack
They decided to explore the rest of Kor’Barrack while they wait for Brann. I am happy with that because it means the material I created won’t go to waste AND it means that they must have enjoyed what I created, so yay!

This session was very enjoyable. We played for about 4 and a half hours and I continue to be impressed and surprised by just how much gets done in that amount of time compared to 3.5 or 4th edition games. This was the first LL session I have run that used entirely my own material (not counting the maps I used which Dyson Logos created) and I think it went very well. Once again everyone is looking forward to the next session.

I need to work on my prep time versus play time. My time in to time out ratio is close to 1:1 meaning for every hour I spend preparing I get an hour of game time. To me this means I prepare to much. I have pages and pages of detailed room descriptions and its to much. I need to work on my improvisation so I can get my ratio closer to 1:2. I’d be happy with that.

I need to find a way to make these damn session reports shorter. What is peoples opinions, do you like this much detail (even though I am still leaving much out)? Who the hell is even going to read this?

Group 1 session 3

We added another player to our game this session. An experienced role player (from my other group, Group 2, so there goes my idea of running the same material for each group, oh well). My intention is to add a little experience for the newbies to draw from and at the same expose the experienced (and perhaps jaded) role player to what gaming with people new to the hobby is like.

The new guy rolled up two new characters which brought our roster to: Benedictor (Cleric 1), Brann (Dwarf 1), Olish (Cleric 1), Fick (Thief 1), Gutta (Cleric 1), Utta (Thief 1), Madge (Fighter 1), Lea (Elf 1)

Please note that for this adventure I ran Shadowbrook Manor (it’s very good, pick it up) so there will be some SPOILERS below. Do not read this if there is a chance you might play it.

This takes place two months after the last adventure when the players investigated the wizards tower. Olish and Fick are the new characters. They arrived in town recently looking for help in the recovery of a tome. This tome was leant to the wizard Tazimak many years ago by the great library of Veeran. The book, titled The Hyperion Cantos, somehow slipped through the cracks. It has been requested recently by a Magic-User and the fact that it is missing has been discovered. A reward to the tune of 500gp has been offered. Looking for help Olish and Fick have teamed up with some other adventurers to find the book.

I am going to try a new format for this session. The last few have been way to long.

  • The party inquires around town and discovers the location of Shadowbrook Manor and that 50 years ago something happened there and Tazimaks apprentice left the area quickly.
  • At the manors front doors Brann uses the knocker medusa head knocker and with a loud echoing boom the doors swing open.
  • While investigating the parlor small fireballs begin hurling from the fireplace at the characters.
  • Fick stealthily enters the library where he triggers an attack from a Banshee, he is rescued by his friends and survives.
  • Opening a door marked with magic runes the party finds a black void on the other side. Throwing a torch in Gutta curiously wonders why she is now short a torch, odd.
  • During their exploration the party comes across a door that they cannot seem to approach, it is always 20′ away from them. None of their experiments seem to be able to bring them any closer.
  • In the great hall Olish plucks a harp which causes the party to go mad and attack each other. Before they are able to destroy the harp Lea has slain Fick. Not being particularly fond of Fick the party takes his things and disposes of his body in the void. Ficks existence is wiped from the universe.
  • In a guest bedroom the party finds a magical mechanical songbird. Casting speak with animals Gutta learns it is repeating a series of numbers.
  • In a trophy filled with stuffed monsters the party is attacked by an albino ape. What is it with the apes they wonder?
  • In the art gallery Lea removes a painting from the wall and discovers a safe behind it. Using the combination discovered from the bird and Uttas open locks skills the party is able to open and loot the safe. (This room is a fantastic little easter egg for anyone thats familiar with older D&D modules)
  • The wizards laboratory holds a disembodied brain who mentally assaults the party. Once they realize where the attacks are originating they make short work of the brain.
  • The party finds a desk that contains some scrolls and the book they came for “The Hyperion Cantos”. After resting Lea uses the read magic spell to decipher them. One of them is cursed and Lea loses her soul to a cursed scroll. Leas player is very disappointed, the party removes her body from the house for later proper burial. For now Olish and Gutta say some prayers for her.
  • Investigating the manor grounds the party is set upon by an enraged ghoul caretaker (earlier Olish had cut pieces of a topiary on the manor grounds and the ghoulish caretaker discovered the vandalism). Having had enough of the strange place the party heads back to town.

As usual we had a few deaths. The death of Lea was particularly hard as she had been a member of the party and she lost her life to a random cursed scroll. Not much to be done about that, its the price one pays as an adventurer.

Before the session I prepared outlines of the manor thinking it would make mapping easier for the players. It didn’t. Mapping this was a real nightmare for some reason. I think for the next session I will attempt to do away with player mapping and see how it goes.

Everyone had a great time, they really liked this module with all the odd things going on it kept them on their toes. My recommendation to people preparing to run this adventure is spend time going over the encounters in the encounter table and make sure you have a good idea about how they will all play out.

Definetly going to keep writing my session reports in this format.

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.

Den of the morlock shaman players map

This is the players map that resulted from Group 1’s first session. Pretty damned good for never having played a pen and paper RPG before I would say (for comparison purposes the original map is on page 130 of the Labyrinth Lord book).

I gave no help other than the standard verbal descriptions of room dimensions. I would repeat descriptions when asked but did not look at their map and say “yes that looks right” or “no that is incorrect”.

Players map of the Den of the Morlock Shaman

Group 1 session 1

Last night I began my new Labyrinth Lord campaign with Group 1 (consisting of my girlfriend and a friend of ours neither of who have really played a pen and paper RPG before). The session began with them creating two characters each; my girlfriend was rolling hot with the d6’s and ended up with very good attributes for both her characters, Madge, a Fighter, and Lea, an Elf, while the other player was rolling pretty poorly, his characters were Sneex, a Thief, and Brann Bronzebeard, a Dwarf, I’ll post their characters later.

My plan for the evening was to have them make characters, meet a few people in a town I had created, and then head off to adventure, they would be exploring the Den of the Morlock Shaman, the example adventure in the Labyrinth Lord book.

The party started off in the town of Parriksburg, having arrived a few days earlier in search of adventure. While in town they had heard two rumors:

  • some Morlocks hiding in an old Dwarven home to the south west had recently begun attacking outlying farms and stealing livestock. Two days ago the violence escalated and the Morlocks attacked and killed a farmer and his wife and made off with their two children.
  • recently a rich merchant and his caravan who had been travelling to Parriksburg were waylaid by bandits. Of the eight caravan guards only two survived the attack along with the severely injured merchant himself. The merchant is currently in the care of goodwife Jopa his chances for recovery did not look good, his wounds severe and some strange disease attacking his body from within.

Having decided to attempt to find the missing children the party is gathering supplies and preparing to depar when Sarjeant Emon Dorn, head of the town milita, approaches with two militia members in tow and asks the PC’s if they would object to Dathnel, a baby faced man in his early 20’s, and Ymta, a rough looking woman in her 30’s with short cropped brown hair, accompanying them on their mission. Happy to have local help and extra bodies the PC’s accept and the party sets out.

Six hours later they arrive at the entrance to the cave, Ymta is designated torch bearer so she lights a torch and the group enters. They immediately encounter a side alcove which Lea decides to investigate. As she begins searching a drip of green slime falls from the roof just before an entire Green Slime drops from above! Thankfully the slime misses and falls harmlessly to the floor where a number of sword blows (I missed it at the time but I really should have had the acidic slime damage the weapons that struck it) and an attack from Ymta with the torch put an end to the Slime.

As the party continued to investigate the cave, Lea and Brann, the two characters with infravision, scouted ahead while the rest of the party followed behind with the torch. Brann crept to the edge of a large cavern and spotted a group of 5 Morlocks in a circle arguing about something, engrossed in their discussion they did not hear him as he snuck away and called Lea to attempt to put them to sleep with her Sleep spell. Creeping to the edge of the cavern Lea let loose a mighty sleep spell and put the entire group of to sleep, following which she and Brann ran in and slew them as they slept.

Next the party came across a set of finely crafted stone double doors inscribed with Dwarf runes that read “Home of the Stonefist clan, Be Welcome”. From beneath the door the party could see light flickering inside. Sneex, being suspicious, searched the door and surrounding area for traps but found none so Madge slowly pulled open the heavy doors. Thirty feet away, seated with it’s back to them sat a large hunched furry white creature eating a goat. Surprising the beast, Lea drew her bow, fired and hit while Madge, Sneex, and Brann moved to attack the beast before it could turn on them. Dathnel and Ymta each moved to keep watch down the passageways leaving the room. The surprise round was brutal as Sneex landed a backstabbing blow from behind and Brann sliced the white ape on the arm. The following round was no better for the stunned ape as the party won initiative and cut it down before it even had a chance to attack or flee.

Unbeknownst to the party a group of 3 Morlock guards down the norther passage had overheard the fight and set up an ambush in a nearby room. Unfortunately for the Morlocks the party outsmarted them. Sneex, listening at the door, heard sounds that indicated creatures were inside. Using his Thiefly knowledge he was able to determine that the door was not locked and successfully used his Pick Locks skill to lock the door! Lea then jammed a copper coin into the key hole to make opening the door more difficult. The party briefly discussed pouring lamp oil under the door and setting it ablaze but decided against it.

Proceeding down the hall they discovered Jake and Anna, the missing children, locked in cells. While freeing the children Bran detected something odd with the stonework at the passageways end. With their combined skills Brann and Lea located and opened a secret door. Inside was a necklace on a pedestal and a small wooden chest. Sneex excercised his thiefing and searched the pedestal and chest for traps, finding none, he and the PC’s had Ymta carry the treasure chest, deciding to open it once they had escorted the children back to town.

At this point the party returned to town and left the children with an Aunt and Uncle in Parriksburg. Dathnel and Ymta left for their homes as the to recover the children had been completed. The PC’s decided to grab a meal and a room for the night in the inn and discuss what they wanted to do the next morning.

Waking the next morning they found Sarjeant Dorn in the common room where he thanked them for their service and provided them a reward of 50gp which they could keep provided they completely cleaned out the Morlocks from the cave, to which the PC’s agreed.

The next order of business was to open the small chest. They took it to a field behind the inn where Sneex, while failing to pick the lock, set off a poison needle trap. This was the first truly suspenseful moment of the night as it required a Save vs. Poison or die. Sneex made his save and was able to jerk his hand back out of the way before the needle could prick his thumb. Relieved, Madge began bashing in the chest while a crowd gathered to investigate the noise. Once broken, hundreds of silver coins spilled out as the crown oo’d and aw’d at the pile of treasure.

Deciding they needed somewhere to store their treasure they looked around town for a merchant that sold treasure chests. While they were unable to find a treasure chest to purchase they did come across a Gnome Jeweller by the name of Kerr Pang who also ran a money changing service. For a fee of 10% he agreed to change all their silver pieces to gold and to store their treasure for a number of days. Happy with this arrangement the PC’s set off back to the Morlock caves.

On arriving they fired up Lea’s lantern and gave it to Madge to carry. They decided to investigate a section of the cave they had bypassed before and they found it ended in a dead end. The dead end had some large rocks and stone debris in it as well as what looked like some recently disturbed earth. Lea entered to investigate, with Sneex behind her. As Lea approached the end of the dead end the roof collapsed bringing heavy rocks raining down! Lea, Sneex, and Brann were all in danger from the falling rocks, however Brann made his saving throw and was able to get his shield up over his head to protect himself while Lea and Sneex were not so fortunate and they each took 5 points of damage. As the falling stones came to a stop the PC’s were sad to see that Sneex lay dead under the rocks, his head crushed by a large stone. Lea, injured but alive, climbed from the rocks. The remaining party members took Sneexs money, said some words, and laid his bedroll over his fallen body. A debate about whether or not to continue occurred; in the end they decided that they wanted to keep the 50gp reward from the Sarjeant and thus must continue on to clear out all the Morlocks.

Returning to the set of double doors the PC’s are surprised to find the doors now closed. Marge again opens the doors and the party is not surprised when they find 4 Morlock guards arrayed in a line across the room; behind them stands the Morlock Shaman! Initiative is rolled and it comes up a tie, simultaneous actions! Lea begins casting a sleep spell while the Morlock Shaman begins casting Cause Fear, Brann draws his crossbow and fires at the Morlock Shaman and hits doing damage and causing her spell to be interrupted (a note here: I use a slightly modified combat sequence) while Madge draws her two handed sword and prepares to enter melee.  With the Shamans spell interrupted Lea’s Sleep spell is complete and once again all of the Morlocks fall to the floor in a magical slumber. The party moves in and puts an end to them.

A quick exploration of the remaining dungeon turns up the Morlock Shamans bedroom. The floor is covered by a huge cave bear rug which the party decides just might be valuable so they roll it up and carry it back to town.

This is where we ended for the night. Everyone had a good time, there was sadness over the loss of Sneex, but excitement over getting to create a new character to replace him.

All in all I have to say I was (1) very impressed with my players, and (2) very surprised by how easy this adventure seemed. Sleep is obviously very awesome and is the big factor in why there were so few deaths.

I do wish we had more players as I am not a huge fan of having people play more than one character, especially new players, because it does not let them connect with their characters.