Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Party of Nine for the Mound of the Lizard Men

It was just me and the kids last Saturday and there was no question in their minds as to what we were going to do: epic Dungeons and Dragons, or else! While they napped I sketched out my plans… and after a snack of cream cheese spinach dip we went down to the basement and got out the dice and rule-books. Their plan was simple: take every single character that they had ever rolled up and march directly to the Lizard Man Mound.

I told them I didn’t want to do miniatures this time, but they insisted on using the vintage Denis Loubet painted Cardboard Heroes. My son had a second level cleric now and I asked him to read through the second level spells to see what he wanted. He read them carefully and chose Protection From Evil. My daughter was very jealous that her brother was getting to pick out spells and she nearly cried until I explained that her two second level Magic Users got a total of four spells to pick out. She chose Detect Magic, Protection From Evil, Sleep, and Ventriloquism. (The rest of the party included a first level fighter, a first level thief, a first level cleric, a first level halfling, and two second level fighters.)

During all the spell-picking discussions, my daughter noticed the picture of the Mad Hermit from module B2. She wanted to know all about it… and there just so happened to be an old blind man at the tavern that could tell her everything she needed to know. In short, the tales of this man were so frightening that she never wanted to go anywhere near the Mad Hermit. (That’s okay, she’ll need to visit him some day… heh heh.)

Off they went. They chose to camp out by the road instead of in the swamp. The party roasted marshmallows and assigned watch duty. My daughter’s characters had first watch. I described the moon and the lonely howl of a dog or a wolf… the crickets chirping… and this strange croaking sound. This got scary fast. My daughter begged me to not make it too scary. Next up, my son had two characters on watch. This time, the croaking continued… but it got worse… more and more croaking sounds surrounded the camp. My son’s cleric cast his Protection From Evil spell and I ruled that whatever was making the croaking sounds left the scene.

The next morning the party crossed the river and began slogging through the swamp. (The kids splish sploshed like in the Going on a Bear Hunt song.) I described the horrible Midges that bit them and buzzed around them. This was almost as scary as the croaking sounds from the night. My daughter wanted to cast her Sleep spell on them, but I told her there were too many bugs for it to work. Finally, the two clerics decided to pray. (I rolled Wisdom checks for them and one of them made it.) I ruled that the prayers gave the party the fortitude and patience to endure the horrible Midges.

They got near the Lizard Man Mound and saw some kind of bear skin hung up, an open chest of gold, and a Lizard Man sitting on a stump. The entrance to the Mound was not far behind. The party got about 240 feet away and my daughter tossed one of her Sleep spells at the creature. Nothing appeared to change: he just sat there on his stump. Working under the assumption that the Lizard Man was asleep, the two second level fighters went to get the gold while a couple of other characters got the bear skin. When the two fighters touched the gold, they were drawn up into the air in a net trap! At that moment, six Lizard Men came charging out of the mound.

The party won initiative and began fighting. Bilbo ran to the fighters and freed them. (I ruled that it required an intelligence check, which he barely made.) My daughter’s magic-user then used her Ventriloquism to make a horrible roaring sound behind the Lizard Men. I checked their Morale at a -4 penalty and they all ran away.

My daughter was furious when I told her that her spells were all used up, but I explained that they could go back to their camp and re-study her spells if she wanted. She agreed. The party got the strange bear skin, but the gold turned out to be painted lead. The Lizard Man on the stump turned out to be a dummy. (This was insanely impressive to the kids. They thought it was really clever and funny.)

Coming back to the Mound after a recharge, the six Lizard Men sallied forth again. The party lost initiative and the first level fighter bought it. My daughter shot back with her Sleep spell and dropped all but one of them. My son slit the sleeping Lizard Men’s throats while my daughter’s characters took out the remaining Lizard Man.

Now they had to deal with the Mound. My daughter didn’t want any of her characters to go in, so my son took his second level fighter and his second level cleric. They went in and had to fight four Lizard People by themselves. After a round or two, the cleric was dead and the fighter was down to one hit point. Ouch! My son got out of there and asked his sister to go in and finish them, but she didn’t want to. After a long discussion about it, I sent them upstairs to bed while I cleaned up, but then my daughter had a change of heart: the thought of going to bed without more D&D was sufficient to give her the courage she needed to enter the Mound.

She sent in all of her surviving characters except her magic users. They dropped the biggest one and fought on. Her first level thief died and my son decided to risk his second level fighter one more time. We rolled the D20’s scads of times and the party finally won. Looking under the eggs in the nest, the party discovered copper and silver coins, a gold ingot, a fizzy pink potion, and a fizzy green potion. There was a pretty intense conversation about who would get the potions, but once that was settled, the party headed back to the Keep.

Later on I asked them which part of the game they liked the best. My eight-year-old son said he liked the fighting at the end. My six-year-old daughter said she liked the part about the dummy the best. My daughter did not care one whit that she lost her first level thief and first level fighter– she said she could just roll up some more. I don’t think my son has a grasp of how expensive the loss of his second level cleric really was, though. (That character had survived maybe a dozen sessions and helped solve The Palace of the Silver Princess.) After retelling the tale of their adventure the next day, my daughter immediately asked me to tell it all again.

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13 responses to “Party of Nine for the Mound of the Lizard Men

  1. Korree December 12, 2011 at 7:46 am

    This is very sweet. Mu husband is a huge RPG-er, and D&D was his first love. He is really hoping that our son, Trent, will love it as much as your children seem to. I’ve always told him that I hope to say, “be home from the dungeon in time for dinner.”

    • jeffro December 12, 2011 at 9:08 am

      I think they could just do this ad infinitim. You should have seen them when my daughter talked her brother into letting his halfling character taste the fizzy green potion…!

  2. Chris Mata December 12, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I know a guy who sounds like this Korree. If I remember correctly he is the best husband in the world.
    If i remember correctly. :)

  3. Chris Mata December 12, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I picked up the red and blue Moldvay rulebooks off ebay the other day. I am SUPER STOKED about getting my son and his cousins to run through this baby. We have 11 cousins all within 18months of each other. thats an adventuring party made in heaven right there. I should have just bought LL since those rulebooks may very well disappear in the intervening years.

    • Chris Mata December 12, 2011 at 10:31 am

      I guess i better correct myself. Its the Moldvay/Cook Red/blue rulebooks. I dont want any hardcore folks getting a posse together to come ‘educate’ me. :) j/k

      • jeffro December 12, 2011 at 10:43 am

        Woah, you’re going the full B/X! (I thought you’d go with Mentzer.) I’ve got that baby blue Cook Expert rulebook on the way myself…. I have LL, but I just had to know what “the real thing” was like… down to the anciliary Erol Otus illustrations…. If I find myself saying, “by the way, that book is thirty years old” too many times, I may switch back!

        The best part of this game with the kids is (in my opinion) watching how they plan together… how they deal with the bad stuff… how they talk each other into doing the stupid stuff… and how they divide up the stuff at the end. That can only get better with more players.

      • Chris mata December 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm

        Well I may have misled you. I intended to buy the other red box but found a good deal on the earlier ones.

        To be honest, there is no telling what ruleset I will use when its time to game with the young uns.

  4. Jimmy Anderson December 12, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    this is one of the coolest blog posts I’ve EVER read – so cool :-)

    and I enjoyed the comments too…

    nothing to add – just feedback – my kids are 18 & 20 and though we did some “gaming” early on, they never really got the bug

    • jeffro December 12, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      Woah, thanks Jimmy. I’m glad to see that my daughter will rise to the occasion and accept rulings and so forth when her brother is around. (She will try to “play” me, though.) It’s also surprising to me that just one “lair” can make a huge 2-3 hour session. The kids remember everything… even stuff I’ve forgotten I’ve done. I think they can handle the Caves of Chaos now. It’s amazing to me to see them learn more and more with each session.

  5. John Fowler December 13, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Came here from BGG – and am happy I did! thanks for the writeup!

  6. Pingback: My Son’s First Total Party Kill « Jeffro’s Car Wars Blog

  7. Pingback: Maxims of Adventure Design | Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

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