In the intervening week since last session I revisited my sewer dungeon and touched it up a bit. This mostly consisted of deciding what treasure was well and the status and posture of what was guarding it. The players were quite alarmed by the dog men’s incremental improvement in coordination and tactics.last time and suggested the possibility of coming in through a different entrance in order to be less predictable, so nailing down what the sewers were like in every direction seemed like a sound use of prep time.
Game night arrives and (per Gygax’s direction) we no have a full week of game time to catch up on. This is a truly stellar rule as the monster’s have a chance to lick their wounds, injured players have time to recuperate, and players have have a chance to attend to all the stuff they don’t do when they’re own adventures. If you don’t play the “one real day = one game day” rule, then the focus of play becomes entirely and ONLY about the adventure. Flip that one switch and the campaign gains a chance to breath, everything has a chance to grow organically.
The party’s cleric that serves the hilarious proto-god Issek is, for example, spending his off time begging on The Street of the Gods. (He put a few coppers in the tin in order to make people think people are giving.) The paladin meanwhile spent the entire week praying and fasting. (When asked which the holy symbol of his faith was he immediately replied that it was a cross. Good man!) Everyone else was presumably chasing trollops.
Word on the street is that your mom is a changeling.
The ranger was a special case, though. I had a rumor I’d been sitting on for weeks because no one would talk to my NPC ranger in the tavern. (If you knew what sort of humiliations they’ve endured at the hands of new school DM’s that have stripped them utterly of any kind of agency, you would grasp how this sort of thing can happen.) Then last week, the PC ranger was wanting to buy a horse. Inspiration: why not let the player be that guy that finds out stuff? PROBLEMS SOLVED! Even better, the fact that the players literally have the reigns of the campaign shifted even further into their control. That’s how you win are rpgs right there, y’all!
One other thing we clarified here was that Keebler Khan’s mom is not part of anything like some sort of broader elf culture. There’s just not that much in the way of any kind of demi-humans in the realm. Occasionally a human child is replaced by what people believe to be changelings. Many of these freakish children end up abandoned, consumed by the streets of Trollopulous. Pretty sad! Not a whole lot of perks for the odd demi-human freak in this world.
Anyways, I start the game with the ranger’s player’s scouting run. He suspects the dog men are coming and going to the city from some other entrance. I tell him he sees the sewage pass out of the city into a swamp to the west, but that it’s covered with metal bars. The players want to know about other entrances into the sewers besides that and I say that there are other manhole covers to the west, the south and the northeast– kind of randomly, really. Almost as if the city were randomly built on top of something else.
I ask the ranger what else he sees on his scouting, hoping he would improvise some random details I could incorporate into the game. No such luck! Turns out nobody knows anything about the world outside the sewers. I tell them there are jungles to the north, which surprises them. There are wild men to the south, a sea to the southeast, and mountains to the southwest.
I tell them the ranger came across some tracks heading south. Maybe 20, 30, 40 (?) creatures… big…. Some of the players want to follow them. Others say that they are afraid to go back and tangle with the dog men. Why would they tangle with something bigger and more numerous? The players debate a while and finally decide they want go find where the tracks came from.
This is of course in a place where I have spent next to no time prepping. I surreptitiously roll on a random table in the back of the Fiend Folio while the players start planning their excursion and shopping for mules, pith helmets, etc. They travel a day to the jungle’s edge and we stop to double check that this is even according the rules. It all comes down to how much it’s rained in the past week. Like how many hours even.
Anyway, I rule that with the ranger’s help they can follow this trail. They make it to these cyclopean ruins at about five o’clock in the evening on the second game day of the session. They’re at a big outer wall. There’s places where it’s fallen in. Up above they can see a temple in amid the huge ruined pile. The paladin suggests tying the mules to the wall so that they can go up and investigate.
As the party nears the temple, they hear the sound of drumming. Inside there is a naked woman on the alter. She is surrounded by ape-men. One of them is about to sacrifice her. The party attacks with ranged weapons and takes out the guy with the knife. The ranger rushes in Errol Flynn style but there is an earthquake the rest of the party is blocked off from him.
The other players decide to disbelieve the illusion. Three of them walk through the rubble and inside the temple. Inside, everything has changed. There are two beast-women inside, each with the body of a lion and the torso, arms, and head of a woman. There is a fight and gradually the players elect to retreat back through the illusory rubble.
Moments later it dissipates and they see everything’s changed again. They hear screams for help from a passage beyond the alter, but can’t tell whether it is from the left way or the right. One of the clerics immediately declares that he is pushing the alter, because there is always a secret passage underneath them. It budges and there is a staircase down. Keebler Kahn leads the way with his predator-vision. There is one beast-woman down there with the ranger! The party rolls in and the paladin finishes her off with an epic blow while the ranger protests.
The players collect 5000 electrum from the scene, camp in the vicinity, and then head back to Trolopulous for a well earned rest.
I was thinking that one of the clerics would have enough experience to level after this game, but double checking the rules this long heralded event is going to have to be postponed. The cleric’s experience point total is frozen until he can come up with enough gold– 1875 piece– to pay for his training!
He doesn’t even have a third of the necessary funds.
This game is unreal!
Keebler Khan was knocked down to -2 hit points again. With two clerics and a paladin in the party, there was little chance of this being life-threatening. With the exception of the initial total party kill, there have been no player character deaths even with several saves versus poison having to be made. While AD&D is absolutely punishing with its training requirements for leveling, the negative hit point rule combined with the large amount of healing spells make the player characters practically indestructible when compared to their B/X counterparts.
Still, the ranger very nearly didn’t make it out of this one!
Characters in this game:
Arthur the Gallant (7 hits) [Delves 2, 3a, 3b, 4, and 5] XP: 122 + 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 = 2046
Hans Franzen the Swoleceror (2 hits, Burning hands, Jump, Message, Read Magic) [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, and 5] XP: 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 = 1924
Torin the Runner (7 hits) [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, and 5] XP: 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 = 1924
Aulis Martel the Acolyte (8 hits) [Delves 3a, 3b, 4 and 5] XP: 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 => [Frozen at 1500 until he levels!]
Keebler Khan the Veteran/Prestidigitator (5 hits, Charm Person, Spider Climb, Write, Read Magic) [Delve 3a and 5] XP: 753 + 766 = 1519
Gregg the Acolyte (10 hits) [Delves 4 and 5] XP: 54 + 766 = 820
Note: These XP totals do not include any bonuses due to high prime requisites.
Experience and treasure:
2096 XP for killing monsters plus 5000 electrum gives a total of 4596 XP divided six ways for 766 each!
Day 1: The Hole in the Sky
Day 2: The Thing in the Sewer
Day 7: The Big Score part I
Day 8: The Big Score part II
(Day 9-14 — player characters all carousing¹; Keebler Khan fully recovered) <—- I day of real world time = one day of game time!)
Day 15: The Drums of the Dog People
(Day 16-21: More carousing, fasting, panhandling.)
Day 22-25: Altar of the Beast-women