Thursday 17 December 2009

Rat Trap, or Who's that Ghoul?

It's just occured to me that it's been a while since the last session with Team Adventure got an airing on the blog. So, without further ado...

This entry is best read in conjunction with the map which can be found here.

You will recall that last session, after the finishing off of the two bugbear brothers, the team hunkered down in room 32 to recover their lost hit points. I don't know what it is about these particular sessions but getting the hp sorted, casting the cure lights and such like seems to take forever. It could be that JG now has eight characters to cope with and prefers, as he said at one point this session to 'just fight something'. They searched the bugbears' room, 31, and found, amongst the other loot, a golden chalice but this went into a backpack and was remarked about no longer.

Fully recovered, they set off along the corridor to room 35, where they were faced with a multiplicity of choices. Room 35 has no inhabitants, traps or tricks and yet, in a way is at the very centre of Level 3. They chose to try the door to room 34, and had no trouble opening it. Inside was a huge statue of a dragon, its snarling mouth open and pointing straight at the party. JG rushed off to make a model of the dragon statue out of Lego when I told him what was there. Three characters had gone in when my rolls indicated that one of them had triggered the trap. Hiss went the dragon breath and Garazor, Alia and the hobbit failed their saves vs. breath weapon. I rolled the damage, and found that Garazor and Alia were at zero and the hobbit went down to -7.

JG knew, for I had mentioned it, that a pressure pad on the floor was the cause of this, but thought that the entire floor was a trap. Lannius tied an iron spike to a piece of rope and tossed it across the room to the far entrance where his high Dex ensured that it snagged onto a crack in the stone. With Hruthnor holding the other end, making it a tightrope just above the floor level, Lannius shimmied across it. I thought that this was such a neat idea that I ruled each person had to make a dex save per 10 feet, which made two saves in total. Only two character failed their saves and at once got back on the rope and scurried across. No damage ensued because they were nowhere near the pressure pad.

JG, rather pragmatically, left the three incapacitated characters behind and pressed on. They moved on down towards room 37, entered and saw a pile of rubble in the far corner. Deciding that this warranted attention, they approached. Suddenly, over the stones came 15 giant rats, flinging themselves at the party. Despite only doing 1-3 points of damage per attack and having a THAC0 of 20, they managed to hit Lannius (that happens very rarely) and brough Alurax down to -1. Well, he only has 4hp to begin with.

The rats were eventually despatched, proving wearing and worthy opponents. The party headed on, down and around a big loop of corridor, eventually finding their way back to room 35. I had been rolling for wandering monsters but as you will recall, the table is getting emptier and emptier and no-one put in an appearance.

Back at the figurative crossroads, JG decided on the room that I'd been dreading them going into - 33. I knew that this had eight ghouls inside, but the party were unaware of this. They got to the door and started to investigate. Lannius reported a foul smell, and JG immediately thought "Carrion Crawler". They got the door open and from the darkness came a stronger smell and the sound of shuffling feet and growling. They slammed the door shut and started to iron spike it closed. Thumps and bangs from the other side of the door convinced them to hurry and whilst they were doing that, Garazor, Alia and Zhastur arrived. Garazor had used a Cure Light on himself, then cured Zhastur, who had reciprocated, bringing the three of them to full HP.

With 'something' banging on the door and nobody wanting to find out what it was, the party headed back to room 31, which they knew was safe, to rest up and recover their strength. Again, the iron spikes came out to prevent unwanted intruders.

Finally fully recharged, Team Adventure set off again, passing by room 35 and noticing that the door to 33 had been riven to shards of splintered wood. Whatever had been inside was inside no longer.

(I ruled that the ghouls have now taken the goblins' slot on the Wandering Monster table). JG has no idea what they are or where they are.

They now headed off towards the blank spot on the map, rooms 27 and 26. The door to 27 was locked and Lannius was about to open it when Garazor grumbled about not having had a go this session (or indeed, at all). Lannius stepped aside and let Garazor have a go. Garazor fluffed his roll. Lannius rolled and got a 03. The door clicked open. They found themselves in a room facing a table covered in dusty potion bottles. JG moved Lannius straight to the table and started picking up the bottles. Dismayed at his lack of caution, yet knowing that there was no threat, I decided to teach him a lesson, and started rolling dice by the handful, asking him exactly where the character was standing, what was his AC, etc. Cue dread and fear on JG's part, then I dropped the pretence and told him that nothing had happened, but not to go rushing in next time.

They pocketed the potions, having forgotten about Identify in the dead magic user's spell book (while I was waiting for JG to finish looking at the potions, I was reading up Identify and I'll have to have a good long look at that, because it doesn't look like an easy spell to adjudicate). Beyond this room was a locked door into room 26. Garazor had another go at the locked door to this room and failed, and Lannius did his trick again, rolling 08.

This room contained a puzzle. Briefly put, it was a case of matching small counters in a box with both the colour and shape required on slots in the wall. I thought that it would be reasonably challenging, but by no means impossible for a 6.5. year old. I drew it out on a piece of paper, but in retrospect, it might have been better to do it in coloured pencils. With a little gentle guidance from Mummy Grognard, who I'd enlisted for that purpose, JG got the puzzle and was rewarded with the appearance of a replica of the pillar that they had encountered in the treasure room, 36. The replica showed the pillar with the stone tokens in place and their correct order, but as well as that, the missing two were shown with their designs on.

The first two, having been found with the wolves and the water weird, had a wolf and snake on respectively. The missing two had a wave design and the best attempt at an ogre head I could manage. JG now knows roughly where to look for the last two tokens, and has sussed that level two is the place to go. He also recalled, without prompting from myself that they had seen a side opening on the way down the shaft to the third level but that, at the time, they had passed it by.

He returned to room 29, where they had fought the centipedes and found the room empty and the rope still hanging there. Their climb to the second level was about to begin.

It was there that I left it. I was quite pleased with the way that it had gone today, despite no figures with the exception of the party having made it out of the box. That may well change next week when they hit the meaty stuff on the 2nd level.

It occured to me that the ghouls could be reasonably quickly despatched with the clever use of dungeon geography and the use of Protection from Evil spells. Have a cleric at each end of a straight bit of corridor, casting their Protection from Evil and using these as a block for the ghouls, who cannot pass the magic circle (see MM entry). The rest of the party, using missile weapons and oil flasks, just send arrows and oil bombs past and over the heads of the clerics and turn that stretch of corridor into a killing zone (if you can call it that when the ghouls are already dead). No holy water available (well, not in the quantities required for splash damage and such like) but if there were, it would just add to the butchery. The ghouls would be so closely packed that even those not directly hit would be caught by splash damage, and that's no mean amount. And let's not forget that the three MU-classed characters (Alurax, Elise and Alia) could cast Affect Normal Fires to add to that cosy glow of roasting ghouls.

Well, that was about all for this session. Oh yes, they did encounter a wandering kobold down near room 36 but he spotted the party and ran for it rather than face them. Sensible fellow.


  1. Do you allow for sipping of potions to determine some aspect of it? I'll do that for my players - the characters may not know what it is ... (aside from the experienced players) ... but they get clues to what it might do.

    I also like the monsters that flee or are left behind become wandering monsters. If they have treasure, I'll still have it on them, but I enjoy that trick as well.

  2. It all depends on the potion, I suppose - according to my notes, one is water breathing, one is a special oil that will enable stone to be turned back into flesh. There is also a potion of fire resistance, a potion of extra healing, plus a potion of gaseous form. So it might be a bit tricky to work it that way for some of them - 'you feel a bit gaseous'? I would have to come up with something that gives them clues but doesn't dump the solution straight into their laps.

    One of the ideas in the Training Dungeon is to encourage the players to think about what they've garnered so far and use it (in this case, a spell book with Identify in it, which - bemusingly - they've not thought to sit down and have a look at). Future adventures in the 'real' dungeons may well use the idea you've outlined, as Identify might not be available in that circumstance.

    The catch is of course that any of the potions might be poison. So do they feel lucky?

    Wandering monsters - in the version of this dungeon that Old 4 Eyes is running, the party have already had their massive fight with the goblins and the four survivors (yes, some survived) have now become wandering monsters. Once they're gone, there will be no more goblins.

    PS It's nice to see that someone else likes Gozzy's as well. For me, an invaluable resource.

  3. Water breathing - for a brief second, gills appear on your neck

    Special oil - your skin feels slightly cool, then warm and alive.

    Fire resistance - your skin feels cool to the touch - the skin closest to a torch or heat source feels cooler than the rest

    Potion of extra healing - you feel extra healthy

    A potion of gaseous form - for a brief second, your body turns to mist, then resolidifies.

    Sipping a potion of poison - now for me, I would either make it so that it's indeterminate, forcing them to ingest the whole thing, or make the poison work on first sip.

    Remember that Identify isn't the "tell you everything about it" spell too!

  4. Many thanks for that - perhaps we should have a competition to see if we can come up with clues for all the potions in the book.

    I'll certainly take those on board - if they decide to take a sip, that is.