This game opened up with the return of Malbert . Everyone that this guy had been adventuring with before is dead now except for Fagor. While not a whole lot seems to happen in any one session, the changes sure do seem to add up. It’s a completely different game now!
Updating the him to the current situation following on from last session was much harder than I expected. The rough player map was completely wrong. My wizard duel that set off an explosion on the southwest side of city had gotten changed in the players’ minds into a meteor strike on the southeast side of the city. Everything was confused! When the players went into the dungeon, nothing was where they’d thought it was, even after I carefully gave out exact lengths for were doors were, turns, and passageways.
One thing was clear, though. Going across the electric shock line created by the blue rocks in the trenches was completely OUT. The players would rather go several levels down into the dungeon than each suffer a guaranteed one hit of damage. Color me shocked!
Fagor’s player had previously complained about the high price of information. Chaz’s player (ever the devil’s advocate against whatever bee is in my bonnet at any given time) had begged for slightly more conventional, un-awesome low-level play areas. The thirteen one page dungeons I created for the campaign in the past few weeks (and incorporating the sketchy notes from my binder) were devised specifically to deal with these two minority criticisms. My theory was that the players as a group would OF COURSE choose awesome over dull. The reality is…. well, I guess we’ll see more of that as the campaign continues to unfold.
The players had captured a LIZARD MAN last session and opted to engage in enhanced interrogation during their six days of down time. When Fluid the Druid selected “lizard man” for his new language he abruptly found out that it didn’t do him any good with this thing. Doh! (Should have taken Green Dragon instead, man!) The new magic-user got lucky on his random spell rolls, though and got to select “Comprehend Languages” for his utility spell. The party finds out that there are more of whatever these things are down in the cave area beyond the sinkhole.
So the group this week elects to go to the cave area and ties a 50′ rope around a stalagmite. Peero goes down and checks things out, then tugs the rope to signal that all is clear. Then the party wonders how they can know if it really is Peero on the other end or not.
They go down and check the place out. Then they cover each of the three entrances to that room while Chaz the Footpad tries to hammer in 14 iron spikes into the sinkhole leading down to it. Naturally this causes so much noise that some monsters come to investigate what is going on.
We have a great big fight. Reading from my one page dungeon map, I accidently say the word “troglodyte” when describing the situation. OOPS! The mystery of why Fluid’s Lizard Man language didn’t work is accidentally revealed!
The ensuing battle was pretty epic in all the ways that the sages of old school gaming proscribed. Chaz climbed down into the battle zone and then traversed to a position above the “lizard men”. He rained darts down upon them from his perch. Note that if I had stopped the game to sketch out the encounter map and set up figures, this probably couldn’t have happened unless I had planned in advance to ALLOW for this very thing– not likely given my lack of creativity and shoddy preparations! “Theater of the mind” (ie, fantasy role-playing) leaves the door open to the players subtly influencing the nature of the actual situations. Players contribute to establishing the individual combat scenes just as surely as the influence the broader campaign.
Chaz was going to jump down on one of the lizard men, probably for a back stab. It would have been awesome, but the morale of the monsters broke before that could be effected. The magic-user had held back his sleep spell. Instead he wanted to toss flaming oil. This wasn’t actually prepared in advance due to lack of funds on his part. I ruled he had to spend an entire one minute combat turn getting set up while the battle raged.
The fighters on the front line took some hits. I remember Malbert got knocked down a good six points. Dangerous! The druid healed him during the conflict after I think casting bark skin on himself. Jerelek the magic-user scored two direct hits on lizard men, fully combusting them and scoring splash damage on their pals. Fagor lead his shield wall (which we later determined was not actually a shield wall) to bypass one of the jewelry-wearing lizard men. There behind the front rank, his two sumo henchmen overbore him, gaining a leglock and bringing him to his knees. Peero then rushed up and thrust a torch in the dude’s face. The following round, the AD&D Grappling Rules dictated that an astonishing suplex reduced the thing to unconsciousness.
At the end there were only three of these things left. They won initiative on the round that they got a fighting retreat result. They steadily backed down the hallway away from the chaos. I ruled that the players did not get their usual free parting attacks because of this. I did rule that Fagor had time to switch to his bow and get of some ranged attacks. It was far from enough damage to eliminate the survivors.
Now was the moment that really was the entire point of the session, though. What do the players do NOW?
They are deep in the dungeon, in a relatively dangerous area. They still have a sleep spell ready and can potentially take out a significant number of monsters with that if they can get it in position. (The first time in 20 sessions that we even had a sleep spell in the game. Incredible!) They have lost an EXTREMELY VALUABLE HENCHMAN who was (amazingly) just on the verge of leveling. (Most people just make them die for no reason.) The previous session they had an incredibly paltry take. WHAT DO THEY DO?
Well it might be because the party is overcautious and it might be that they just know better than the DM. It might just be that it was getting late. But the players pretty well all agreed that they should take the wrought gold and wrought silver jewelry and get the heck out of there before the monsters came back with reinforcements. Perhaps due to the intel of their being near a full fledged lair, they seemed to just assume they’d get overwhelmed. Sleep spell or no sleep spell!
Fluid the Druid had other ideas. The other players recoiled in horror. Face palms. Cringe. Not again!
The players take the treasure and get up the sinkhole. Fluid does, too. He wants to wait and see if the lizard men pursue them. The other players aren’t having it. They just leave him there. Fagor’s player declares to everyone else that “he needs to learn.”
Fluid the Druid waits a while and then… sure enough. The lizard men are coming up the sinkhole. He wants them to chase him and is going about it all wrong, though. Jerelek’s player (who wasn’t in a position to advise) tells him he needs to go the full Bre’r Rabbit: “oh know! They’re coming! Eeeeek!!!”
Fluid races out of the dungeon and back to the wizard duel crater with the lizard men trailing him. Before the session he had announced that he had taken Call Lightning as his spell specifically because it was raining where the DM was and this would be a rare chance to use it. He cackles with glee because he is about to turn the tables on the monsters, but then he consults the rule book. Uh oh. It takes a full ten minutes to call down lightning. THIS IS NOT GOING TO WORK.
Fluid switches to plan B. He jumps onto Bison Buddy and declares he is CHARGING the twelve lizard men that are coming for him. (“Are you sure you want to do this when you could simply just ride away?” Hey, it’s Fluid!) I have no idea how to adjudicate this. Complicating things, the lizard men have the initiative. Which doesn’t really make sense. How is this even supposed to work?
Well… I suggest that the charge would likely take effect first and that in the aftermath on it, I could only imagine at most four of these things getting attacks off on Fluid. Fluid could totally just ride away safely, but he INSISTS on living dangerously. He rolls into the mass of lizard men. The charge and trample is incredible, killing outright three or four of these things. But how does AD&D combat even work? Is there anything that prevents all of the surviving monsters from taking a swipe at him? Fluid’s player reminds me of one thing that does: the ruling I had already made prevents them from doing just that.
Fluid now faces a stone axe, a stone morning star, and two claw/claw/bite routines. He takes a significant but not overwhelming amount of damage. A few key misses made all the difference. Of course, if all of them had an attack it he would have had NO chance at all.
But seriously. What is the correct way to adjudicate a crazed scimitar-wielding druid charging a bunch of lizard men on bison? Was this fair? Was the ruling good enough? Everyone wanted to see the resolution of the fight. We were also pretty well out of time. Was it the right thing? How can you know???
Anyway, with the battle going like it did, the players were now seeing things a little bit differently. Why didn’t you tell us you had a plan?! I shut that right down. “You didn’t have time to plan. You were 100% sure he was committing suicide. This is exactly what should have happened.” Well, given I had ruled at all reasonably on the charge. The charge that NO ONE had really planned for.
Note that the two more of the lizard men in the group Fluid fought had those fancy “Lizardache” style wrought jewelry on. They had a reasonable chance to double their take, but left it in the crater.
Back in town, Chaz takes their items to the gnomish jeweler for appraisal. He ends up getting 1200 gp for BOTH. And most certainly does not succeed in tricking the DM into switching the offer to 1200 gp for EACH at the last second.
The players take a masochistic pleasure in the grades given out for play. This time the magic-user gets downgraded to a merely “Superior” rating for failing to cast his spell at all.
Chaz the Footpad got enough XP to level but did not have the gold in order to pay for training costs. Previously I had ruled that Chaz had to pay full training costs due to racism at the Trollopulean thieves’ guild. It’s a hefty 3000 gold pieces this time. Note that if he was training himself, this would be doubled to 6000! (Note the other thief– a human one– I’d ruled that he’d only have to pay a 40% cut of all his treasure hauls in order to preserve the rapid leveling of the thief class.
Either way, though. Every other game just gives away this leveling stuff. AD&D says, naw. GO EARN MORE MONEY! It’s not XP for gold. It’s levels for gold. And the XP amounts for monsters are really irrelevant. What to do!
Ah, one more thing came out at the end. Fluid the Druid noted that he had some kind of water breathing spell now that he was at third level. He could go explore that underground lake if the rest of the party would go for it. Come to think of it, he could organize his own party by himself he felt like he would rather spend gold on finding his on henchmen. The capacity of old school campaigns to support MANY competing play groups simultaneously is just one of their many features that so resilient in the face of WHATEVER the players end up throwing at it.
Oh, one last footnote. At some point I revealed that Stoogie the Dwarf had stood Chaz up this time, possibly due to poor treatment. Chaz literally never noticed that he wasn’t there. Which reminds me that the deal I had offered Chaz on leveling as an elf when the thieves’ guild was racist against elves… it was that though he would have to pay training costs (possibly at the double rate given what the rules say), he would be able make a lot of that back by being the person that the demi-humans paid to train THEM as thieves. NOW it’s coming back. So yeah, ticking Stoogie off and killing Doogie and Loogie was not a good idea if that is what we were doing!
Treasure and Experience:
Treasure shares came out to 160 gold each. Experience shares were 239 each with 119 for the henchmen. Fluid the Druid gets extra XP for the fight this time. His xp share is 368… with Bison Buddy picking up 64.
Cast o’ Characters:
Malbert the Veteran (9 hits) [Delves 2, 3a, 3b, and 8] XP: 122 + 753 + 351 + 0 + 239 = 1465
Fluid the Druid, Initiate of the 2nd Circle — Level three druid. [Delve 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, and 19] 4000 + 106 + 369 = 4475 XP. Should be broke from training. 63 gold last time and 160 this time. Procurer of the fabled Boobs of Opar.
Bison Buddy — [Delve 17 and 20] 64 XP.
Fagor the Half-Orc Swordsman— Level three fighter. [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 6b, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, and 20] — 4000 + 1816 + 106 + 239 = 6161 XP. His horns have grown incredibly large. Looks frightening and diabolical. Cloven hooves His name means “astonishing hero” in orcish. Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous.
Logan — [Delve 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, and 20] Plate mail and shortswords. 333 + 70 + 76 + 875 + 31 + 80 = 1465 gold and 362 + 35 + 95 + 264 + 908 + 53 + 119 = 1836 XP!
Nasty and Dernhelm — [Delve 12, 14, 15, 19, and 20] Just a codpiece and a spear. 333 + 70 + 76 + 875 + 31 + 80 = 1465 gold and 362 + 95 + 264 + 908 + 53 + 119 = 1801 XP each! (Trained for dedicated grappling)
Peero the Sweeper — [Delve 19 only] 53 + 119 = 172 XP and 31 + 80 = 111 gold. [Note 15 strength and seven hit points!] Has antique monocle from 5th aeon.
Chaz the Elven Footpad — Level two thief. [Delve 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, and 19] 1250 + 30 + 528 + 362 + 106 + 239 = FROZEN AT 2500 XP UNTIL HE LEVELS. Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous.
Drizzle Pizzle the Elf — [Delve 20[*S] only] 119 XP and 80 gold.
Jelerak — Level one magic-user. [Delve 20 only.] 239 XP and 160 gold.
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
(Day 26-31: Resting)
Day 32-33: The Pugs of Slaughter
(Day 34-39: Resting)
Day 40: The Overbearing of the Crystal Men
(Day 41-46: Resting)
Days 47-48: The Song of Fàgor
(Day 49-70: In shock from an awesomely weird adventure. Sad!)
Day 71: The Woman in the Ice
(Day 72-76: Resting)
Day 78-79: The Return to Trollopulous
(Day 80-85: Carousing in a besieged Trollopulous.)
Day 86: “You Just Ruined My Story Arc”
(Day 87-92: Utterly exhausted!)
Day 93-95: The Schwérpunkt of the Pig-Men
(Day 96-101: Carousing)
Day 102: A Night in the Autonomous Zone
(Days 103-108: In Trollopulous)
Day 109: The Rave of the Monkey Goddess
(Day 110-115: Scouting out jungle and undead quarter)
Day 116: Snakepede Legion
(Day 117-122: Fagor leveling; Chaz protesting)
Day 123-126: Return to Sorceress Mountain
(Day 127-132: Narjhan leveling. Rhedgar researching sorceress woman.)
Day 133-137: The Boobs of Opar
(Day 138-143: Fluid the Druid, Narjhan, and Rhedgar all training)
Day 144: Spirit Cooking of the Rich and Famous
(Day 145-172: Fagor acquires Peero the sweeper)
Day 173: In Search of the Level Appropriate
(Day 174-179: Some first level cleric spent 200 gold to look for the men-at-arms he could take down to up to the third level.)
Day 180: Lizardache’s Den of Instinkquity
Dorkorus — Half-elf fighter/magic-user/thief — [Half brother to Keebler Khan, talked with a lisp!] Killed by a pug-man in the sewers of Trolopulous.
Dairage — Elf fighter/magic-user — Killed with his shield spell on, valiantly taking down the leader of the pug-men so that the party could have a chance to escape certain death!
9 Hapless men-at-arms! — Killed by the pug-men in the sewers of Trollopulous!
Arthur the Gallant (7 hits) [Delves 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6a, 6b, 7, 8, and 9] XP: 122 + 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 + 8 + 80 + 255 + 0 + 195 = 2584 [Looked like a member of ZZ Top] — Killed in the sewers of Trollopulous while bashing a baby wererat with his shield.
Catskinner the thug — Smashed to a pulp by a white ape in the swamps near Trollopulous.
Aulis Martel the Adept (8 hits) [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6a, 7, and 13] XP: 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 + 8 + 255 => Just leveled up at 1500 XP. Reduced to idiocy by a Guild Navigator in the basement of the party’s autonomous zone in the undead quarter of Trollopulous.
Torin the Strider — [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 6b, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 16] 2250 + 800 + 734 + 70 + 191 + 362 = 4407 xp (levels at 4500) [Looks like a member of ZZ Top] +666 gold from session 12, +141 gold from session 14, +338 gold from session 16 [Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous] Killed by by giant bombardier beetles in the Jungles of Opar.
Simon the Thug Henchman — [Delve 12, 13, 14, and 15] Studded Leather and shortswords. 333 + 70 + 76 = 479 gold and 362 + 35 + 95 + 264 = 756 XP. Cut down by a six armed snake woman in the temple in the crevasse at Sorceress Mountain.
Hans Franzen the Swoleceror — (3 hits, Burning hands, Jump, Message, Read Magic, Zilifant’s Effervescent Protein Bomb, Bigby’s Discomforting Wedgy) [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6a, 6b, 8, 11, 12, 13, and 14] 2500 + 734 + 70 + 191 = 3495 XP. (Levels at 5000) [Looks like a member of ZZ Top], [Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous] 1336 + 141 = 1477 Gold. Killed by a “Bone” devil as he opened the door to the Fire Escape.
Brother Pain the Acolyte [Delve 3b, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 14] [Looks like a member of ZZ Top] XP: 1500 + 191 = 1691, +141 gold from session 14. Killed by a “Bone” devil as he attempted to free innocent looking little girls from evil spirit cooking people.
Bill Murray the Prestidigitator — [Delve 16 only] Gold 338 and 362 XP. Killed by a “Bone” devil in the den of the spirit cookers.
Dronal the Bravo — Killed by a “Bone” devil in the den of the spirit cookers.
Biff the Bold the “Veteran” — Pinned to an ice wall by a “Bone” devil in the den of the spirit cookers.
Kathars the Veteran — Welcomed into the pits of hell by Mephistopheles.
Doogie and Loogie the dwarfs — [Delve 16 only] 169 gold and 181 XP each. Killed by beastmen in the underground complex.
Half-Beard the Veteran — [Delve 12, 13, 14 and 15] 666 +141 + 152 = 1009 gold, 734 + 70 + 191 + 528 = 1523 XP. [Member of the Order of the Knights of Trollopulous] Killed by a lizard man in the caves underneath the underground complex.
Gilgalad — [Delve 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, and 19] Plate mail and shortswords. 333 + 70 + 76 + 875 + 31 = 1385 gold and 362 + 35 + 95 + 264 + 908 + 53 = 1717 XP each! Killed by a troglodyte in Lizardache’s Den of Instinkquity.