Don't Forget Your Boots

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Tag: Known World

D&D Known World, Session #5: Troglodytes

The kids carried on, without the guest players. Despite the scuffle that broke out last time, they decided to give the magic sword to Timi, the halfling henchman.

What Happened:

Being out of spells and low on hit points, the party decided to camp out in the easily-defended room with the pit trap and the bed. During the night, Kohncrete and Nautical left with the charmed orc, to do some scouting, but they never returned. The next morning, Anya prayed over Styx, healing his wounds, before they set out for the day’s exploration.

Carefully working their way past the pit trap, they paused at the door so Styx could listen and peek through the keyhole. He heard voices, and observed a group of troglodytes dragging a bound woman into place in front of a stone idol shaped like a humanoid alligator. While the trogs chanted, Styx slipped up behind them, making off with a couple of stone clubs and taking up a position behind the dagger-wielding priest.

Shouting war cries, the rest of the party burst from the room and engaged the trogs from behind. Everyone but Styx was sickened by the troglodytes’ terrible stench. Shadow charmed one, while the others fought to the bitter end.

The party took a bit of damage, and used a couple of spells, but was left in generally good shape. Their new troglodyte ally was dubbed Clod the Trog. Once woken, the would-be sacrifice introduced herself as Aniria, a cleric. She healed Styx, who took special pride in the rescue.

For a moment, it looked like there would be a disagreement about who would get the glowing, obviously-magical dagger, but then Styx noticed the alligator-idol’s two gem-set eyes. He climbed the idol to pry out its eyes, in approved old-school fashion, while Shadow put the dagger in his belt.

With that settled, they turned around and retraced their steps. They went all the way back to the room where they had appeared after falling victim to a teleport trap. There, they again went through the “everybody in the room, close the door, open the door” cycle a couple more times, just to make sure they didn’t go anywhere. They didn’t.

Since the trap still seemed to be one-way, they went back the way they came, re-examining the route. Thinking it led upwards, they returned to a stairway they had marked on their map, but discovered that it actually led down. No thanks!

Taking a right where they had previously taken a left, they came to a door. When Styx listened at the door, he heard nothing, but he detected the telltale smell of trogs. Clod wasn’t able to talk to the others, as none of them shared a common language, but he pointed at the door, shaking his head vigorously and holding up six fingers.

Rather than taking a head-on approach, they decided to try for subterfuge. They sent Clod in, while everyone else hid. After a few minutes, Clod returned, bringing one of the troglodytes out with him. Distracted by Clod, the trog was easy prey to a group backstab.

Shadow liked the way that had worked out, but wanted to speed up the process. Pulling a chicken leg from Timi’s rations, he opened the door and waved it at the five surprised troglodytes, shouting “Come and get it!”

Of course, all five charged. Battle was joined, as it so often is, at the doorway. Aniria tried to help, but with no armor and only a stick of firewood for a weapon, she wasn’t all that effective and soon fell back, wounded. Timi was knocked unconscious and Shadow had to drag her out of the melee. In the end, everyone was wounded, some badly, but only one troglodyte remained standing against them. It chose to turn and flee rather than carry on. The party chose to let it go, rather than pursue.

Once more entirely out of spells and low on hit points, the party decided to go to ground again, in the trogs’ old room.



D&D Known World, Session #4: The Endless Tunnels play tricks

The kids’ D&D adventures continue, this time with a couple of guests. As of last session, Styx had become a 4th-level thief, while Shadow is still a 3rd-level magic-user. This time, they were joined by a couple of guest players, bringing in some new PCs: Arnt Knott and his identical twin brother, Nautical, both 2nd-level fighters, and Kohncrete Sinderbloke, a 2nd-level dwarf. The party was rounded out by the surviving henchmen and hirelings: Bob the Goblin, who failed his save and therefore continued on, still charmed; Anya the 2nd-level cleric, now receiving spells; and Timi, 1st-level halfling.

This session, the kids experienced several classic D&D moments for the first time. Sadly, one of those classic moments was a squabble within the party over magical treasure, explaining why the session came to a somewhat-abrupt end. On a happier note, after looking at some of the illustrations in the Cyclopedia, they finally realized that “halfling” means “hobbit”. Much to their relief: it turns out they had been worrying that Timi’s hairy feet were a sign of something sinister. 🙂

As for our guests… They were adults with D&D experience, but only going back so far as 2nd Edition. They seemed a little appalled at some of the differences: “3d6 in a row” was one thing, but “Dwarf is a class” needed some explaining. They were good sports about the weirdness, though, even when… well, it’ll come up in the story. The guest PCs come in partway through the story.

What happened:

After the great haul last time, the whole party was eager to return to the  The Endless Tunnels of Enlandin (copyright © 2003 by Stefan Poag). After consideration of the 3-day travel time to the dungeon, most of the party decided to pack extra rations. Shadow decided he would save the money and live off the land, hunting for food. That didn’t turn out so well, as he was only able to find food on one day of the trip. Rather than let him starve, Timi shared some of her fresh rations with him, after extracting a promise of repayment upon their return to civilization.

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D&D Known World, Session #3: Entrance to the Endless Tunnels

The continuing adventures of the kids’ first D&D characters, using the rules from the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia. Last session, both PCs again leveled up, bringing us to Styx, the 3rd level thief, and the Shadow, 3rd level magic-user. They added a hobgoblin to their charmed gang, so their starting henchmen were Bob the goblin (also known as Boblin and, in formal moments, Robert the Goblin) and the hobgoblin, variously referred to as Steve, Joe, Steve-Joe, Joven (half Joe, half Steven), and “hey you”.

This session, the kids grappled with encumbrance. I had been taking care of it for them, while showing them what I was doing; this session, I had them look up numbers and do the math for themselves. The only question from the younger of the two: “How many coins can I carry before I can’t move?” Enough to bring a tear to a 16th level fighter’s eye, it is.

They also independently invented the “15 minute adventuring day”, as we’ll see in due course.

SPOILER ALERT: This session leads our intrepid heroes into The Endless Tunnels of Enlandin, an adventure Copyright © 2003 by Stefan Poag. If you don’t want its secrets given away, you might want to skip this session.

The adventure describes itself as “An old school adventure for 5-8 low-level characters” which made me nervous in the beginning. The introduction gives some history, though, saying that this dungeon was used as a starter for new 1st level characters. I figure, two 3rd level PCs plus henchmen stack up to just about as much as six 1st level PCs, especially since they would level up as they went.

What happened:

Having gotten into the groove of things, our heroes went shopping. While in Threshold, Shadow scanned all their accumulated treasure with detect magic. Finding nothing new, they sold off the jewelry from the ghoul room for a sizable profit, then turned the money around to improve their gear. Having noted his attribute adjustments (penalty to melee for low Strength, bonus with missile from high Dexterity), Styx picked up a short bow. Shadow bought a backpack. They considered buying a healing potion, but decided it was too expensive (at the AD&D pricing, from the 1st edition Dungeon Master’s Guide).

One of Styx’s unsavory friends approached him with an offer to sell him a treasure map. He eagerly accepted. The map showed the location of the long-lost castle of the Mage of Enlandin, about three days’ travel from town.

So, they started thinking about henchmen.

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D&D Known World, Session #2: The Haunted Keep

The continuing adventures of the kids’ first D&D characters, using the rules from the Dungeons & Dragons Rules CyclopediaLast session, both the PCs gathered enough experience to level up, so now we’re talking about Styx, the 2nd level thief, and the Shadow, 2nd level magic-user… plus, Bob, the charmed goblin.

One of the highlights of this session was the kids’ first argument over alignment. Shadow’s player objected to Styx’s repeated pickpocket attempts. He felt they were risky, and more the kind of thing a Chaotic thief would do. Styx’s player wasn’t impressed by this argument, pointing out that he’s a thief, and thieving is just what he does.

There’s no cleric in the party. In the Cyclopedia‘s edition — “BCEMI D&D”, I guess? — the assumption is that there’s no market for magic items, so one can’t just buy a healing potion off the shelf. As far as I can tell, after repeated searches, the Cyclopedia has no rules for natural healing. (Immortals regenerate 1 hp per day, though, which establishes an odd baseline…) I’ve ruled that a day of rest restores 1d4 hp, modified by the character’s Con adjustment, minimum of 1 hp. Furthermore, because I’m a big softy and the kids both chose classes with d4 hit dice, I’m allowing any character to bandage another after a fight to restore 1d3 hp.

If you’re wondering: yes, this Haunted Keep is the same Haunted Keep that’s the example dungeon from the Basic Rules. So, uh, I guess, SPOILER WARNING for a two-page example dungeon from a product that’s ©1980 by TSR Hobbies Inc. (Further spoiler: TSR doesn’t make it.)

What happened:

Our heroes made it to the town of Threshold, where they sold one of the goblins’ pearls, keeping the transaction out of Bob’s line of sight. (When he stole the pearls, Shadow went to some trouble to make it look as if they had been taken by a raccoon, so it would be hard to explain how they came to be in his pouch.) This provided enough cash to pay for rooms at the inn for the humans, and a haystack in the stables for Bob.

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D&D Known World, Session #1

Over the holiday break, a couple of the kids talked me into running them through a session of D&D. They were watching Teen Titans Go! a while back, saw the episode with the D&D reference, one thing led to another…

If I’m going to actually run any flavor of D&D, it’ll be an old version; if for no other reason, just because those are the books I’ve got handy. I quickly scanned the character creation section of the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia, and we were off!

Youngest kid was the more enthusiastic. He decided to roll up a magic-user, called “The Shadow”. He’s cursed, you see, so he looks like a human shadow, and nobody knows his real name or face. He’s 26 years old, and just venturing out into the world after his apprenticeship. Having spent all his money on a horse to carry his heavy spell book, he starts off without a coin in his pocket, but with a bundle of bread, cheese, and onions to sustain him on his travels.

The Shadow: 1st level magic-user; Align: Neutral; Str 9, Int 14, Wis 9, Dex 8, Con 12, Cha 6; AC 10; HP 4; Spells: read magiccharm person; Equipment: spell book, staff, riding horse with saddle, 1 week standard rations.

Next-to-youngest wasn’t interested until he heard about the super-cool cursed magic user who could enchant people into being friends. He rolled up a thief named “Styx”, a skinny 21 year old human just leaving his guild to seek his fortune. Playing to the strengths of the 1st-level thief, he’s a second-story man, with a good selection of climbing equipment.

Styx: 1st level thief; Align: Neutral; Str 4, Int 7, Wis 5, Dex 14, Con 13, Cha 10; AC 6; HP 5; Equipment: thieves’ tools, rope, 1 week standard rations, 3 daggers, leather armor, long cloak, large sack, 20 iron spikes, hammer, belt pouch, 6 torches.

(Strangely enough, back when I started playing D&D, at about the same age, I think “Shadow” and “Styx” were two of my first three characters’ names. Some things never change, I guess.)

What happened:

Shadow and Styx left their homes in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos (oh, yeah, unashamedly Known World) to seek adventure and fortune in the frontier town of Threshold, riding double on Shadow’s horse. Towards the end of the day, they started looking for a good camping site for the night, one with fresh water for the horse.

As it happened, they came into sight of a small mountain lake near the road. An old, roofless ruin stood on the far side of the lake. Figuring that this looked like a good spot, they approached the ruin. They found a circle of stones for a fire outside the old walls. Someone long ago had driven a spike into a nearby boulder, and they tied the horse to the rusty iron ring.

While Shadow set about starting a fire, Styx went to investigate the ruins. There were two open doorways on the nearest wall, but he chose to scale the wall halfway in between, instead. Peeking over the wall, he discovered a trio of goblins, set to ambush anyone coming through the doors!

The goblins saw Styx, too. Their ambush spoiled, they shouted battle cries and rushed outside. As Shadow stepped around the camp fire, one ran towards him, brandishing an ax. Luckily, he had memorized charm person that morning, and so he made a new friend.

The nearer of the two other goblins came around underneath Styx, just in time for the thief to kill him with a thrown dagger. The second picked up his fallen comrade’s ax and approached more cautiously. The goblin threw an ax at Styx, even as the thief jumped off the wall in an attempt to stab him. Thanks to simultaneous initiative, they both succeeded, and both were brought to exactly 0 Hit Points!

As luck would have it, only one of the fallen warriors had friends standing. Despite lacking a shared language, Shadow and his new goblin buddy worked together to drag Styx over to the fire, where Shadow bandaged him up. Later, Shadow would catch some fish in the lake. He made stew, taking special care to be sure that Styx was well-fed, then sharing with the nameless goblin.

That night, their sleep was disturbed by wild, distant howls. Through sign language, the goblin managed to communicate that there was a scary monster, not to be trifled with.

The next day, while Styx rested, Shadow explored a bit. He found the goblin’s treasure chest, and even convinced the surviving goblin to let him take a peek. Three pearls! After some trickery and misdirection, he was eventually able to sneak back and pocket the gems without the goblin noticing.

That night, the howls came again.

The next day, with Styx back on his feet, the humans convinced the goblin that it was time to check out that scary monster. They went deeper into the ruins, eventually finding an old stairway leading down into a dungeon. At the foot of the stairs, they found an old stone coffin.

Thinking of the possibility of valuable grave goods, Shadow rushed ahead to open the coffin. Both he and the occupant, a ghoul, were surprised to see each other! While the others hurried to catch up, the ghoul nearly caught him with a paralyzing claw, but missed. Knowing that his only spell would be ineffective against the undead, the magic user desperately swung his staff, catching the ghoul on the temple, cracking its skull.

Searching the coffin turned up a pendant on a gold chain, and an extremely nice sword. They pocketed the jewelry and gave the sword to the goblin. Congratulating themselves on a profitable adventure, they turned back towards the road to Threshold!


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