My meeting with the old shop owner didn’t pan out. The fat bastard that runs the place didn’t want to hear about it. He’s probably a Nazi. And a serial harasser. Technically, CNN tells me I’m allowed to punch him for either reason, but my Rascal battery was running low, and I knew it wouldn’t go fast enough to carry me out of his shop before the Five-O showed up. Given my extensive record of getting caught masturbating in the local cineplex back when James Cameron’s masterpiece (Avatar) was in the theaters*, and my predilection for running homeless people over with my mobility scooter, you just know the cops would never take my side of the story.
The Other Game Shop has open RPG night on Thursday nights, so expect a change in schedule for my Actual Play posts from usually Monday to usually Friday. Also, with the change in venue, this gives me a chance to run a new campaign, by which I of course mean a new dungeon, and conveniently enough, I just built a new small dungeon right here on this very blog!
So we get to see how a fresh set of players handles the divine majesty of the Right Royal Knight of Alt-Right D&D who rides the aisles of Wal-Mart upon his trusty battery powered steed as Sir Lardo referees their OSR exploits in The Other Dungeon!
Light crowd last night.
Two players. Four characters. Three henchlings. A full hour of explaining the rules of Masculine D&D. Not the hard-coded rules as presented by the Prophet Moldvay (Hallowed be his name), but the natural expression of those rules. Fell warnings of certain death and certain doom and certain wealth and heroism for the survivors.
Of which there were neither.
First choice for the crew – which entrance to take?
They checked for tracks. A few humanoid tracks leaving the stairs north, strange big animal tracks coming and going in the center, and nothing in the hard pan of the south. Strange grunting sounds, very faint, echoing from the north, too. The sound of dripping water in the south.
See how that works? Three meaningless choices take on meaning when the players actually interact with the options before them. It’s how the game works. It’s not rocket science to people used to communicating like adults.
Based on the information at hand, they elect to tackle the wild animal first and blunder into a nest of three adult owlbears. Said owlbears proceeded to tear the party limb from limb while screeching their hideous cries. Owlbears might be one of the most underappreciated monsters in any addition of D&D. They are mean and nasty and always fight well above their HD weight. No way is any first level party going to survive a slugging math against three of the things. One lone spear carrier managed to escape to tell the tale, and a fresh set of characters set out anew.
Man, twenty minute chargen rocks. We still had time for another delve.
Lesson learned, the party elected to take the big footprint cave this time. At the first fork in the cave they chose not to turn left (toward the party killing owlbears) and instead headed to the right, up a ramp/incline along the right hand side of the passage. In a large alcove they found a heavy oaken door, crudely made, with gaps wide enough to peek between, though not wide enough even for a finger. They could only make out vague shadows beyond – furniture of some sort. No motion. They tried the door, and it was locked.
The strongest member, a cleric, attempts to bash it down. No dice. The next one steps up. No dice. The third winds up for a good bashing…and the door opens! Big Bruud the ogre does not appreciate being woken from his slumber. The reaction check would have been neutral, but for the player’s clear attempts to break down his door. (I assigned the check a -2 due to their attempted B&E.)
One ogre can do a lot of damage to a first-level party. Especially when they can’t bring their numbers to bear. He slaughtered the front line fighters and set to work on the secondary line (a henchcleric and a spear-carrier promoted to PC), but fell to the combined weight of arms, and three survivors looted his chambers. Bruud wasn’t guarding one of the three big hordes, but he did have a sizable stash. He was using a famous portrait of a long dead king as a tablecloth, which made for a very portable fortune in addition to a little coinage. With the fat XP score in hand, they wisely retreated to The Town to count coup and rest and refit.
The third delve wasn’t as lucrative, but they did map out a chunk of the southern cave. They found the first hot spring (empty of lizardmen) and fought a wandering giant snake. They descended the stairs to the cold-water realm of the lizardmen, but elected not to wade into the murky depths, preferring to stay dry for as long as possible. They still think the Owlbear Cave connects to the rest at some point. They also heard the overhead shufflings of the gobbos in the room marked with a question mark, but don’t know what to make of it (nobody speaks goblin).
I updated the wandering monster table to remove Big Bruud – those events shall herefore be classified as “Nothing Happens” until I have an excuse to replace him. Since this is a teaching blog, let’s sneak a peak at the updated map:
(For those playing the home game version, the base map was provided courtesy of Dyson “Salty” Logos.)
That’s a pretty good chunk mapped with only a couple of real threats neutralized. At least they have some breathing room for maneuvering. I was surprised they didn’t run into more wandering monsters with all that mapping. One giant snake seems light to me, but perhaps the dice are saving up all the encounters for next time.
*It’s not what you think. It’s when the heroes firebomb that giant tree into smoking charcoal. Just can’t help myself when that happens on screen. Man, I bet steaks grilled over the charcoal from that tree would taste DEE-lish.