Having despatched the giant poisonous snake and found their loot, the party did something that I had not expected them to do – they decided to try the other doors. In retrospect, they didn’t know that behind each door was a ghoul but even so – “you’ve found the treasure, guys, don’t look any further”.
Still, luckily for them, they managed to have only one ghoul to fight at a time (regular readers may remember a session of the Training Dungeon where Junior Grognard’s party was torn to shreds by a pack of hungry ghouls) and having disposed of the grisly inhabitants, decided to press on down the left-hand (as you’re looking at the map) passage.
They crossed a bridge that spanned another tunnel, visible through iron-barred windows, which none of the party could shift, which was a handy introduction to Bend Bars rolls. We had touched on this during the attempt by Alurax to free his companions from the skeleton prison (room 11 on the first map) but now everyone got to roll up their STR to check their BB%.
At the T-junction, they were pondering which way they should go when the new cleric, Ferros (played by M, who had joined the players and was learning the ropes)
decided to go trotting off on his own. He chose the left-hand turn and soon came to a tunnel at the end of which were two suspicious objects on poles. Getting a little closer, he saw that they were dwarven heads, complete with beards and helmets. As he neared them, I had him roll up his DEX and then make a save against it. He failed and alerted the placers of the heads to his presence - cue attack of the hobgoblin sentries. We had a couple of heavy combat sessions when Team Adventure managed to beat off attacks from two waves of hobbos but by this time, they'd expended all their Heals and Spells and thought it best to make a retreat back to town.
There are some major differences between megadungeons for adults and ones for kids. For a start, the kids won't tolerate empty rooms. A series of empty rooms is a sure-fire way of causing major boredom. I like to keep the monsters coming, even if the layout of the dungeon makes no logical sense (monsters with no way of getting food, water etc). Also, the lethality of it needs to be scaled back and there's little point at this stage in putting something like a complex plot into the dungeon (i.e. dungeon politics, clashes between groups etc). Treasure may be a little on the high side but these are boys we're talking about and youngsters at that. So they level up quickly? Meh...means we get to the G modules that little bit quicker!
And of course they can always retire those characters and roll up some new ones, based on what they learn in little bite-size chunks as they're doing this one.
During the Easter holidays, we had daytime availability for virtually all the boys in the group and we managed to get two sessions in one week. On the next visit to Junior Megadungeon, the gang decided, after a bit of pondering to probe the hobgoblin area again. During their absence from the dungeon, I'd ruled that the hobgoblins had been sufficiently freaked out by the carnage caused by the party's attacks that they had offered quite a large share of their treasure to some nearby ogres for protection. That meant that the party encountered most of the remaining hobgoblins and an ogre just when they didn't expect it.
The ogre got some pretty rubbish hit rolls but nevertheless caused the party some serious inconvenience, before succumbing to a final magic missile from Elysia (Mummy Grognard’s MU). The rest of the party fell one by one to the hobgoblins and finally Junior Grognard’s fighter was the only one left standing on 1hp against a sole surviving hobgoblin (3 others had legged it after seeing the ogre go down). This last hobgoblin took one look at the carnage that had happened to his so-called protection and surrendered to JG, who wisely didn't kill him. I had him roll under his INT on a d20 to work out that he could drag the party back to one of the ghoul rooms, where their recovery slowly occurred. The captured hobgoblin led Elysia to the treasure that had not been taken by the ogres (about 1200gp worth) and they eventually got back to town where Merlin the thief (K’s character) was revealed to have levelled up.
Join us next time to see the d30 rule make a very impressive first appearance.
Hexcrawling a City, an early look - One thing I've been slowly working on for the last year is another fantasy sandbox campaign. My prior one was generally map-based, although a city feature...
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