Archive for December, 2015

Meanwhile, in Rushtu’un…

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Of course, when Dungeon Mastering for Dungeons & Dragons, there is no need for the Dungeon Master to confine himself (or herself) to only DMing for one party. It is possible to run separate campaigns with different players playing different characters, such as what is related below. As of yet, I have not located Rushtu’un into a particular part of the Wilderlands, but I reckon I will try to make it somewhere near where the other group of adventurers are based.

Day #2-24 (Fireday, 4th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC) At the same time that Falafela, Lightstep, Opalent, Vandin, Vox, et al were fighting the zombies in the dungeon at Mont du Plat, there were some other adventurers named Atlas and Quodak Windsailor, a human fighter and a human cleric, respectively, who arrived in the village of Rushtu’un around 3 o’clock in the afternoon after a long day’s march. As they came into town from the west, the first buildings they saw were the Traveler’s Place on their left, and the Sheriff’s office on their right. They enquired at the Sheriff’s office first, and spoke with a deputy. The deputy informed Atlas and Quodak that a local villager had disappeared last night, and that the sheriff was out tacking up reward posters for information leading to finding the missing man, Sully Westerbrook.

The duo then went back across the dirt road to the Traveler’s Place where they were greeted by the proprietor, Orek. Orek asked them what they wanted, and served them. Quodak was sated with just a bowl of soup (that was very filling, nonetheless) and a glass of ale, for 3 silver pieces (SP). Atlas ordered a full meal of roast beef, potatoes, and carrots, and washed it down with a mug of mead, all for 1 gold piece (GP) and 5 SP. Bread was also supplied to both. While the party waited for their food, they spoke with Orek who mentioned there had also been some thievery going on lately. Orek was upset because it was bad for business when customers who stayed the night at his place found some of their possessions missing in the morning. He said he believed it was the work of the elf, Jacob, who ran the competing Weary Voyager Lodge in town.

While the duo were speaking with Orek, they were approached by another patron, Edward. Edward said he was planning to collect the reward by trying to find the missing Sully, although he’d like to have some help, and would Atlas and Quodak join him? They all agreed that three searchers were better than just one or two, even if it meant splitting the reward more ways. Quodak also bought a beer for 5 copper pieces (CP) for Edward while they were talking. After their meal was finished, Atlas and Quodak decided they’d like to check out more of the town before booking a room for the night. Edward decided to stay behind, for now. As Atlas and Quodak left, they filled their waterskins from the private well behind Orek’s place.

The duo stopped by Jordy’s Forge, a blacksmith shop, on the south side of the road. Jordy was busy hammering away at some iron on his anvil when the party approached, but he was ready to lay his hammer down for a moment to talk with some newcomers. Jordy didn’t know anything about the disappearance of Sully, but he did mention that he believed there were some humanoid creatures gathering in some woods outside of town, and that those creatures were planning an attack against the village. Jordy also spoke about another relative newcomer to town who ran a school that taught people to be good fighters. He said that new fellow had been a great soldier in a far off city, but for whatever reason had decided to settle in Rushtu’un. Then party then thanked Jordy and his two young apprentices, and moved on.

The next stop was on the north side of the road at Mingo’s Marvelous Maps, et cetera. Quodak bought two maps (at 1 SP each) of the town and of the surrounding area, as well as a leather map case for another 15 SP. Quodak asked how waterproof the leather map case was, and Mingo assured him that it was well-treated leather that would keep his maps dry in everything except total immersion in water. Mingo tried to interest the duo in buying some magic scrolls, but at hundreds of gold pieces for a scroll, the duo just couldn’t afford to buy any scrolls.

Back to the south side of the road the party went, this time stopping at Culain’s Fighting Academy. Culain immediately tried to sign them up to take fighting lessons for 4 GP per week, for two to four weeks in duration, but the party declined, although expressing possible future interest. They then asked Culain if he knew anything of Sully’s disappearance. Culain said that the night before he heard a brief scream that was interrupted, then all was quiet outside again. He said he quickly went outside to look around, but didn’t see anything and that nobody was in sight in any direction. He did say the scream seemed to come from the east of him, though.

After the party thanked Culain, they left him and proceeded towards the east, to the village’s community well. There, Quodak put his forester skills to good use. He was able to discern, amongst other footprints, some horse or mule tracks that came near the well. Then, there seemed to be a disturbance in the tracks, with the tracks sort of shuffling about, before the tracks proceeded onward as before. He also noticed a couple of drag-marks, like boot-heels, being dragged from the site of the disturbance towards the well. The drag marks ended at the well. There were also two weird footprints that sort of looked like they were from a very large duck with webbed feet but with pointed toenails. As it was getting later in the afternoon, it was too dark to see down the well, so the duo tied a torch to some cord, lit the torch, and lowered it down the well. They could sort of see something that looked like a crack in a sidewall of the well, just above the water’s edge, although they could see no sign of Sully in the well itself.

Atlas and Quodak then quickly went back to the sheriff’s office to inform of what they had found. As he had finished his rounds around town, they got to meet Sheriff Hook in person. The sheriff left his deputy behind and accompanied Atlas and Quodak to the well. Along the way, the sheriff mentioned there was another reward for various missing valuables that had recently been stolen. He also mentioned there had been another missing person recently. Two weeks ago, a traveling carpenter had come to town looking for work. He was missing the following morning, but the sheriff (and Orek) thought the carpenter had merely run off to get out of paying his bill. But now the sheriff thinks that disappearance may be related to Sully’s disappearance. After showing the sheriff the tracks at the well, Atlas and Quodak went to Netto’s General Store, which was next to the Sheriff’s office. There, they bought 3 ropes, a couple of iron spikes, and 5 torches (total cost was 12 SP and 6 CP).

The duo then went back to the Traveler’s Place to fetch Edward to join them, and found that someone named Preston Daniel had joined Edward. Well, four might be better than three, they reckoned. Then, when they went outside after Edward and Preston had gathered up their belongings, including their weapons, they met the sheriff again. The sheriff remarked that if they were going to go down the well, they might want to recruit some more folks, so the sheriff led them all to the Weary Voyager Lodge. There, the party got to meet Jacob Lightfeather, the elven competitor to the half-orc Orek. Jacob mentioned that he believed the thefts around town were the work of Orek in an effort to discredit Jacob. While the party briefly spoke with Jacob, the sheriff went around the room, quietly talking with a few folks. Two men then got up from their tables and approached the party. One was a young fellow named Hillman who was quite enthusiastic to join up for adventure. The other, Fineous (nicknamed “Four Fingers” because he was missing the pinky finger on each hand), wanted 200 GP up front to go searching for Sully, so the party declined to have him join them.

Finally, around 6:30 pm, after the sun had just set, the party congregated at the well. They quickly tied a rope around the base of the well, tying a bowline-on-a-bight on the other end to make two loops so party members could sit in the loops and be lowered down the well, one-by-one. They also drove in a couple of spikes to hold the rope down and to keep it from sliding up and over the well walls.

Hillman volunteered to be the first one down the rope into the well, carrying a torch as he went. As he neared the water, he cried out that there was a crack in the wall big enough for a man to crawl into. The other party members followed him down, one by one. The sheriff stationed a deputy at the well to ensure nobody would tamper with the rope while the adventurers were below.

The party entered a narrow passage in which they almost had to crawl through. The floor was very muddy, with a couple of inches of standing water in most places. After mostly crawling for about 40 feet, they finally emerged into an area large enough so they could stand. They also lit a second torch, as the constant dripping of water from overhead seemed likely to extinguish their single torch. There were passages to the left and to the right, and the party started by taking the right tunnel.

After a number of left and right turns in the twisting tunnel, they debouched into a larger area that had some trash in it, things like broken sticks, tree roots, paper and other scraps. When Quodak went to investigate one pile of rubble in a corner of the chamber, he disturbed a nest of giant rats that were hidden in the trash. Suddenly, four giant rats sprang at the party, soon to be joined by two more rats. There was hardly enough room to swing a weapon, but when all was said and done, Hillman had killed three of the rats, Atlas killed two rats, and Edward finished off the last rat. Hillman and Edward used their shields and spears to good effect against the rats. However, party members Atlas, Quodak, and Preston had managed to get bitten by the rats, and trying to clean the wounds in the filthy, damp, chamber was impossible. Quodak finished his interrupted search of the debris, and found a stash of 25 SP that he shared equally with everyone, 5 SP to each party member.

The party then proceeded into the tunnel at the far side of the giant rat chamber. After more twists and turns of more than 100 feet, they came into a much larger chamber that had a large pool of dark water in it. Atlas and Quodak approached the water’s edge to investigate, especially looking for any human footprints or any of the large, webbed prints they had seen near the well. Suddenly, a large snake-like object flashed out of the water and at Quodak. Fortunately for him, it missed, then withdrew into the water again. Quodak and the others didn’t wait around for a repeat of whatever it was, but instead high-tailed it back into the tunnel they had just come from. They then retraced their footsteps past the rat’s nest area and back to the original junction they first passed through after descending the well.

This time the party took the left passage from the junction. About a hundred feet later, then came upon a four-way intersection. They took the passage to their left. After a 90-degree right-hand turn, they came into a large chamber, about 50 feet by 60 feet in size. They noticed some smaller tunnels that went into the walls of the chamber, but the tunnels were too small for any humans to enter. This chamber also was relatively dry, and unlike most of the rest of the tunnels, this area was devoid of rats, whether of the normal or giant-sized variety. The party they retraced their steps to the four-way intersection.

From the intersection, the party traveled down the path that was straight ahead from their original direction of travel. After more than 200 feet of travel down the dripping, muddy, winding tunnel, the intrepid adventurers emerged into a chamber that was about 70 or so feet long by about 40 feet wide. This chamber had a stench of death about it, and in the chamber the party found a human skeleton, most likely from the missing carpenter, and a partially eaten human corpse that was wearing clothing that matched the description of what Sully Westerbrook was wearing when he was last seen at The Sink Hole the previous evening. The party then started packing the skeleton bones into two large sacks of Quodak’s, and they tied Sully’s body to their 10-foot pole.

Before the party left the chamber, Quodak tossed his torch towards a far corner of the chamber, which was in shadow. This disturbed a creature that was hiding there, and it charged! Unfortunately for Preston, he was the closest to the creature, and he took the brunt of its attack. The humanoid creature was flailing away with both arms at Preston, one hand with claws, the other hand with a sharp, shiny object in it that later proved to be a very fine steel dagger. Preston was felled, and Atlas stepped between Preston and the creature. While Quodak quickly rendered some first aid to Preston to bind his wounds, Hillman joined in the counter-attack against the creature. Eventually, Edward was able to maneuver to in back of the creature, and he dispatched it with two well-placed strikes from behind. Atlas did receive some injury from the creature, but he then cut off the creature’s head and feet and stuffed them into a third large sack to take back to the village as proof of what they had found. They also investigated the chamber more thoroughly, finding a small sack that contained 100 GP, 40 SP, and 50 CP, a plain gold ring, a silver necklace, and a silver cloak clasp (besides the steel dagger the creature was weilding). They also found amongst the carpenter’s bones a small pearl and a bloodstone.

The party now faced a dilemma as they had four relatively able-bodied adventurers available, but they now needed to take two bodies out of the lair, one being the unconscious Preston, the other the dead Sully. They also had a sack of the creature’s head and feet, and a small sack with recovered treasure. As the party prepared to depart for the well entrance, they tied the creature’s treasure sack to Sully’s body, then Edward and Quodak hoisted the 10-foot pole with Sully to their shoulders. Atlas and Hillman were carrying Preston between then, with Atlas also holding the lantern.

Just as the party was getting ready to depart, Hillman expressed his thoughts out loud. He said, “If all four of us are carrying the two bodies, we won’t be in any position to resist any attacks. I think we should re-think this! I believe we should have a guard out in front, then two of us can alternate which body we carry in the middle, followed by a rear-guard. The guard in front can carry a lantern, and the guard in back can carry a torch. Then, when the carriers in the middle get tired, they can switch with the guards.” So that’s what the party changed to. They initially had Atlas leading with the lantern, then Quodak and Edward alternated carrying Preston or Sully’s body in the middle, followed by Hillman as the rear-guard with a torch. The rear guard also carried the sack with the bones of the skeleton they found. Also, just before they departed, Quodak cast a Cure Light Wounds on himself, which cured 2 hit points of damage.

About halfway back to the well, shortly before they reached the four-way intersection, the guards and carriers switched places. Now Edward was in the lead with the lantern, then Atlas and Hillman were carrying the bodies, then Quodak brought up the rear with a torch.

When the party finally reached the well, Edward called out “Hello, up top!” A deputy sheriff leaned over the edge of the well, holding a lantern to cast some light down the well, as night had fallen over the village. The deputy replied, “You are all back already?” “Yes,” Edward called back, “and we have a person who is seriously injured, and will need help hoisting him up the well!” The guard then called for help at the well, and within a few minutes a number of additional villagers appeared topside at the well, including Orek, Jacob Lightfeather, and Sheriff Hook. When it became apparent that more ropes were needed, the Sheriff sent the deputy to Netto’s General Store to requisition a couple more ropes. With the additional ropes lowered down the well, Quodak used his old forester skills to tie a bowline on a bight knot in each rope, so then each additional rope had two large loops that would not tighten.

Preston was placed into the loops, with one loop tied around his knees and the other loop under his armpits. They tied his arms to the rope to keep his unconscious form from slipping out of the loops as he was raised to the surface by the people above. As soon as Preston reached the surface, Jacob said to take Preston to the Weary Voyager Lodge for better care for his wounds. Next, the ropes were lowered and the pole that Sully was lashed to was itself lashed to the loops, and his body was raised to the top. Next up were the sacks containing the skeletal bones, and the recovered treasure. Then, the party went up in the order of Atlas, Edward, Quodak, then Hillman. Hillman said since he was the first one down that he should be the last one up.

Once Preston arrived at the Lodge, he was bathed and his wounds were stitched up by some of Jacob’s staff. The others followed Sheriff Hook to his office, where the loot was displayed. Of the 100 GP recovered, the Sheriff mentioned that the party had earned the 50 GP reward for finding the missing Sully Westerbrook. The Sheriff mentioned that he would have to bring Sully’s wife into town the next day for positive ID, but that was just a formality, as the Sheriff was certain that it was Sully who had been found. The Sheriff, while uncertain that the recovered bones were those of the missing carpenter, decided they probably were of the carpenter as they looked fairly fresh, and no other persons had been reported missing recently. So, the Sheriff said the party had earned the additional 25 GP reward for finding the carpenter, or at least what was left of him. The Sheriff then stated that he would like to give the remaining 25 GP, plus the 40 SP and 50 CP to Sully’s widow, and the party agreed to that.

The Sheriff declared that the gold ring matched the description of a missing ring of Jacob Lightfeather’s, so the ring would be returned to Jacob. The shiny steel dagger matched a dagger that had been stolen from the dwarf Shilton Nimrod, an employee of Jacob’s. The silver necklace belonged to Jazzmin Nightwind, an out of work teamster who was hanging around town. But the Silver Cloak Clasp, and the pearl and bloodstone did not appear on any lists of missing items, so the Sheriff said they were for the party. Of course, there would have to be some way to split the monetary value from those items. In any event, the Sheriff kept all of the money and other items for safekeeping overnight, and said everyone could retrieve the items the next day.

After that, Hillman departed for the Weary Voyager Lodge to spend the night, while Atlas, Edward, and Quodak retired to the Traveler’s Place. Orek said he would provide two nights of free lodging, plus free meals, for the trio, although, Orek did say they would all have to bathe before they could spend the night as they all stunk from the dungeon they had been in. After bathing, the party retired for the night.

— The Dungeon Master

DM note: As one can see from reading  the tags to this post (and other posts), one can weave quite a setting in the fantasy world of D&D. Besides the main player-characters (PCs), there are plenty of non-player characters (NPCs) for the PCs to interact with. Plus, lots of place names, for villages, businesses, geographical locations, etc.

Zombie Encounter at Mont du Plat

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

After our party of intrepid adventurers escorted Flenda and Gwenette back to their home in the village of Crystal Shores, they discovered unexpected adventure awaited them early the next day!

Day #2-24 (Fireday, 4th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): Fortunately for our intrepid party of adventurers staying the night at the Inn of the Blushing Trout in Crystal Shores, the night passed uneventfully. However, upon arising the next morning and heading downstairs from their bedrooms to the main room of the inn, the party found that the innkeeper Sathe Lidorn, his wife Beefa and daughter Lido had all turned into living dead “zombies.” A pair of the zombies attempted to attack the party, but since the zombies were rather slow, the party was able to herd them, holding chairs like lion tamers, to get all three zombies behind the bar in the main dining room area. Then the party corralled the zombies by stacking a couple of tables across the bar opening into the main room. They then quickly repaired to tell Herschel and Wider about what had transpired. Herschel convinced the party they should make haste to go to Mont du Plat. Herschel also said he would get some other villagers to try to more properly restrain the innkeeper’s family.

The party did stop at Vilan’s to see if Flenda and Gwenette wanted to go along to Mont du Plat, and they did, after speaking to the druid Herschel, who mentioned to them they could do a good deed by helping to find the pestilence that was affecting their fellow townsfolk. The party did stop by Mylene’s to obtain a 5-gallon wooden keg, and then Herschel cast a spell to Create (pure) Water in the keg, so at least the party knew they would be starting off with some clean water to drink, as Herschel once again reiterated he thought there was something wrong with the water in the village. The party then lashed a couple of long poles to the keg to make it easier to carry, and especially enlisted the help of Jorgio and Fredo to help carry the water jug as they were unencumbered with any heavy armor.

Then, after a hasty breakfast of jerky and hardtack, although most of the morning was gone, the party departed for Mont du Plat to the east. They followed a trail along the south bank of the south branch of the River Bushkill. There was a jungle to the south that approached very near to the river, so the party kept an eye out for any marauding orcs or other troublesome creatures that might be hidden in the foliage.

Finally, the party arrived at Mont du Plat after a journey of about 10 miles that took about four hours, also drinking a bit more than half of their water supply. They noticed a bridge over the river to their left with a line of what looked to be several houses on the other side of the river. They also saw that the river seemed to come out of a cave higher up on the hill in front of them, and then there was a waterfall with another wooden bridge crossing the river about 50 feet higher than the party’s current elevation. Instead of crossing the river, the party took the road to the right, which started uphill at a healthy angle. They first passed a ramshackle farmhouse on their left. That structure had a severe lean or tilt to it, and looked like it would fall over at any minute. Next was a house of stone walls with a wooden shingled-roof. It had a corral but no animals in it. Next was a sod house with a thatched roof, and then finally a fairly well maintained wood frame house with its front door barely hanging on by its top hinge. Most of the old village looked like it was very run-down, with buildings that hadn’t been cared for in some time.

After another 20 yards or so, the party reached another fork in the road. They stayed to the left, heading back towards the river, still gaining elevation, but not so steep as before. After a left-right chicane-type bend in the road, eventually the road took a sharp right turn, with an old blacksmith shop on the inside of the bend. Behind the smithy were some medium-density woods. If the party had gone straight ahead on the road, it would have crossed the river on that higher wooden bridge that they had seen when they were 50 feet lower. The group could also see an old miller’s residence across the river, and its water-wheel was still being turned by the river, and the water wheel was still turning its grinding wheel, although nothing was being ground between the millstones. The waterfall in the river began just past the miller’s water wheel, to the right of that high bridge. From this position the party could see the road continued higher on the near bank of the river, and there was another wooden footbridge just above where the river debouched from the rocky hill.

The party took the right fork in the road from the smithy’s place, gaining another 10 feet of elevation. The road paralleled the river, and the adventurers saw a stone arch with a large opening in it off to their right. They left the road to investigate that arch, and saw it had stairs leading down into the dark underground. Behind that stone portal the party could see trees, and scattered amongst the trees were broken rocks that looked to have once been the foundation or walls of a building, although there were no standing walls any more. Without any further ado, the party got out some torches, lit them, and proceeded to head down those stairs, although they left their water keg outside the entrance to the stairs.

At the bottom of the winding stairs in the dungeon, the hallway turned abruptly to the left. About 60 feet further on, the hall turned to the right, and immediately after that turn another hallway went to the left (as well as straight ahead). The party took that left corridor at that first intersection. They soon came to a rectangular chamber whose ceiling had partially collapsed in its center, making an hourglass-shaped room. The room had a very foul odor, and many rats were scurrying about. There was also a whistling noise coming from the other side of the room. The party could also occasionally hear some shuffling sorts of noises, but could not determine their direction of origin. The floor was covered with slippery green moss, and party members Falafela, Opalent, and Tureg lost their footing and fell on their backsides, getting covered with the slimy moss, while trying to cross the room. Eventually the entire party made it through the partial collapse in the middle of the room to the far side of the room and discovered another passageway at the diagonally opposite corner, which they continued down. This hallway also quickly turned right, with another branch hallway to the left just after the turn. The passage straight ahead was blocked by a cave-in after 20 feet or so, so the group decided to investigate the passage to the left.

The passage opened into a room that was about 30 feet by 60 feet in size, and one corner opened into a larger, semi-circular area, although that additional area had seen a cave-in and so its size could not readily be determined. This chamber was also dry, including the floor, so the party didn’t have to worry about slipping and falling like in the previous room they had traversed, although this room did also have an unpleasant odor. The whistling noise that had heard in the previous room was louder now and was determined to be coming from somewhere in the caved-in area in this chamber. There were some scraps of timber on the floor, but nothing else to discover, so the party retraced their steps. On their way back through the hourglass-shaped room, Lightstep, Persis and Gwenette managed to fall on the slippery moss on the floor, and Falafela fell a second time, thus getting more thoroughly covered with the stinky slime.

After exiting the mossy-floored room, the party went to their left, down what had previously been the “straight ahead” hallway. They eschewed taking either of two hallways on their right that they passed, instead bearing straight ahead where they finally entered a large chamber after traveling about 100 feet. Their two torches could not light the entire chamber, but they could see that the room must have been elegant, once. The walls still had some remnants of carvings, although they had been eroded by years of water dripping down them. The floor was rather muddy with some standing water, except for some large piles of rubble that had collapsed from parts of the ceiling. As the party noted there were some wide steps on the opposite side of the room from whence the party had entered that led up a raised dais. While the party was engaged in looking at the walls and the dais, they suddenly became aware that they were about to be attacked by four zombies!

The 11 members of the party quickly fanned out to meet the zombie attack, with Lightstep, Persis, Tureg, Vox, and Vandin meeting the attack head-on, and with Falafela, Flenda, Fredo, Gwenette, and Jorgio maneuvering to get behind the zombies for attacks from the rear. Magic-user Opalent wisely stayed out of the fray, and was ready to render first aid to anyone who may have needed it. As it was, the party quickly dispatched the zombies. Vandin first felled one with a mighty blow from his hammer. Falafela backstabbed one zombie out of existence while Jorgio proved his worth by dispatching two zombies with well placed backstabs with his short sword. Vox was the only member of the party who received any battle damage from the zombies, but it was merely a flesh wound.

The party then left that chamber through the opposite passageway, which was at the far end of the room, about 90 feet away, along the same wall they entered by. That corridor ended quickly in the straight-ahead direction, due to a cave-in, thus the party took its right turn and went down that hallway instead. After close to 100 feet, the corridor turned to the right, then after another 40 feet or so it made another right turn. After another few feet, the corridor opened into another chamber. Falafela ventured into the room by herself, without a torch, and managed to not fall down even though the floor in this room was also covered by slimy moss. She heard some footsteps in the dark, then quickly retreated to join the rest of the party in the hallway.

The party waited for the zombies in the room to come to them at the corridor’s mouth. While one zombie slipped and fell down in the middle of the room, two zombies made their way to where Vox and Vandin were waiting to receive them. Vox took some damage from a zombie, then fell back, his place in the front rank quickly taken by Tureg. Then Vandin took some serious damage from the other zombie and fell back; Flenda took his place in front.

While Lightstep cast two Cure Light Wounds spells on Vandin and Vox (the spells were not very effective), Flenda cut down one of the zombies. The other zombie got knocked off its feet and Flenda, Tureg, Fredo, and then eventually Lightstep entered the room. Tureg slipped and fell on the slimy floor, but the others stayed upright. Flenda quickly dispatched the fallen zombie, but the other zombie that had earlier fallen had got up and made its way to the party, killing Fredo with its first attack. Flenda then worked her way around behind that zombie and backstabbed it down, never to rise again. Naturally, Fredo’s brother, Jorgio, was heartbroken at the loss of his brother. He did not want to go on. Some of the party also thought it would be wise to make their way out of the dungeon at this time to lick their wounds, but the sisters from Crystal Shores, Flenda and Gwenette, reminded everyone that their fellow villagers were falling sick and becoming zombies, and they wanted to try to find the source of that mysterious malady as quickly as they could. So, the party, minus Jorgio who stayed behind with a torch to watch his brother’s body and keep the rats away from it, pressed on.

The chamber they were in was L-shaped, and after they turned into the left leg of the “ell,” there was another passage leading out of it. However, there was an irregularly shaped pit about 10 feet deep across the mouth of that passage. Flenda and Opalent jumped across the pit first, then tied a rope to Opalent’s 10-foot long pole and braced it against the floor of the passage as an aid to others who would cross. One-by-one, the party crossed at the narrowest part of the pit where it was only three feet wide. The only casualty was Vandin who fell into the pit and took some minor damage. He would have been injured more severely except he had a grip on the rope and so didn’t fall too hard. The party then fished him out of the pit with the rope. After they all got across the pit, they then traveled about 70 more feet and then turned left into another chamber that was about 30 feet by 40 feet in size. Part of the left-hand sidewall was collapsed, making a pile of rocks about 3 feet high and about 5 feet in hemispherical diameter.

This chamber contained four more zombies, and while all of the previous zombies the party had encountered in this dungeon were dressed as simple villagers, three of these newly encountered zombies were clad in chainmail and were carrying swords, and a fourth zombie was wearing a robe fit for a wizard. During the initial melee, the dwarf Persis was killed by one of the fighter zombies. While other fighters were battling the zombies, Opalent took off her backpack and got out her only flask of oil. She then grabbed Falafela’s cloak, doused it with the oil, and put it on the end of her 10-foot pole. She then lit it with a torch, and dropped the flaming cloak on the head of the nearest zombie. While that zombie was burning to its extinction, another zombie took some minor damage from the blaze. The party also recognized that the flames were holding the other zombies at bay, seemingly fearing the fire. Opalent and Falafela then boldly led the way into the room with their torches and forced the three remaining zombies back. The other party members all scrambled into the room, staying close behind the two torch-bearers except for Vandin who scrambled up and over the rock pile along the wall. Eventually, the party members changed places with the zombies and then Falafela and Opalent used the burning torches to push the zombies back down the hallway the adventurers had used to enter the room.

After a couple of minutes, the zombies were maneuvered to the edge of the pit the adventurers had crossed. The torch bearers, Falafela and Opalent, then maneuvered the zombies so they fell into the pit. The party then formed a sort of “bucket brigade,” passing larger rocks from the rock pile in the room down the hall to Vandin and Vox, who threw the rocks at the zombies in the pit until those zombies were no longer moving. The party then took a short break in the hallway to eat some jerky and hardtack, and to drink from their waterskins, as the recent battles had temporarily exhausted them all. They also lit new torches, as their old torches were just about burned out.

Falafela examined the burnt zombie back in the room, and found 25 GP in its belt pouch, and passed two turquoises and a clear rock crystal she also found to Opalent. Someone also observed that the dead wizard-zombie in the pit had a bone scroll case looped over its neck and shoulder with a leather strap. Opalent tried to fish the strap with her 10-foot pole, but was unsuccessful as the strap was too firmly wedged under the dead zombie’s body, so someone lowered Falafela into the pit with the rope to retrieve that scroll case. Falafela declined to check any other belt pouches on the other zombies for fear of catching a zombie disease. Falafela said she figured the belt pouch on the burnt zombie had been purified by fire, hence was not dangerous, so she didn’t mind pinching its contents.

The party then left the room with the rock pile through a different passageway than which they had entered. After about 40 feet there was a hallway on their right, but they eschewed traveling in that direction at this time. After another 60 feet or so, there was a side passage to their right. They checked that right-hand passage, thinking it would lead them back to the formerly elegant chamber in which they had battled four zombies earlier, but after about 80 feet or so that corridor was blocked by a cave-in. So, they retreated down the hallway and went the direction they were headed before investigating that side passage. After a quick left-and-right turn it went straight for about 60 feet, then turned right. After another 30 feet, it turned right again and opened into a round chamber, about 30 feet in diameter, with a well with a raised stone wall in the middle of the chamber. Leaning against the well was the dead body of a cleric, missing its right arm. There was also much dried blood splashed around the chamber as if a great battle had taken place there.

When the party looked down the well, using a torch for illumination, they could see the surface of the water about 20 feet below. There was also a large sausage-shaped object bobbing on the water. That object was the size of a human arm, most likely the missing arm of the dead cleric who was leaning against the wall of the well. There was also a rusty chain with a bucket suspended from the ceiling on a pulley, so the party tried lowering the bucket to capture that floating arm. But try as they might, nobody could get the arm into the bucket. Lightstep then used his last spell, Detect Evil, and there was much evil radiated from the direction of the arm in the well. Therefore, it was decided to lower Falafela into the well to retrieve the arm. Falafela was tied to a belaying rope, and due to her not wanting to touch the ghastly arm lest she be turned into a zombie, she held another rope with a lasso loop in it. When she was lowered to near the water level, she was able to slip the lasso loop around the arm and tighten it, all without actually having to touch the arm. Then, after Falafela was raised out of the well, the party raised the arm, exceedingly carefully, it may be said! The party noticed there was a large, unusual ring on the ring finger of the hand on the arm. The ring had numerous skulls carved into it, and gave everyone the creeps. Nobody wanted to come close to touching the ring, so it was decided to wrap it in Opalent’s black cloak, then tie it to the center of Opalent’s 10-foot pole. Flenda and Gwenette volunteered to carry the ghastly thing on the pole.

The party then decided it was well nigh time to depart the dungeon. On their way back, Falafela ventured into the side passage they skipped on their way to the well (this time carrying a torch). It was a sort of library, although dilapidated, mostly by water that had dripped down from the ceiling. Some mice were eating some old food in one corner. Shelves of books and scrolls lined two walls, and in one corner was a small desk with a small stool, with a small backpack under the desk. On top of the desk was some writing parchment, and while most of the inked words were illegible due to water damage, Falafela could clearly read two words, “I’m sorry,” written in the common language of the realm. The inkwell had been toppled over, and all of the ink had dripped onto the floor and had dried there. Falafela quickly perused the spines of the books on the shelves, but most were either incomprehensible, or else were too damaged to be of use. So Falafela grabbed the backpack from under the desk, and after sliding the backpack out from under the desk, noticed there was a bone scroll case that had been under the backpack, so she also retrieved that scroll case.

When Falafela rejoined the party in the hall, she mentioned what she had seen in the room. Vox volunteered to carry the newly found backpack. Some now-anonymous person in the party suggested using the desk as a bridge over the pit they would have to pass on their way out, so they carried the desk with them (it was neither large nor heavy). Just as the party was finally on their way out, they heard a large booming sound with an echo, as if another part of the ceiling somewhere in the dungeon had collapsed. They quickly got to the room where Persis’s body lay, and took a few minutes to cover it with a cairn made of the rocks from the rock pile. Vandin also took Persis’ sword with him. Next, the party placed the desk across the pit leading into the next chamber, so they were able to cross the pit and the dead zombies in the pit without further incident. They found Jorgio in the chamber where they had left him, sitting alone in the dark with his brother’s body. Jorgio expressed how he was very happy to have the party rejoin him, as his torch had burned out probably 30 minutes ago, and he realized he should have asked for one or two spare torches to be left with him!

Jorgio gathered up his brother’s body, and carried it over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. The party then retraced their way through the formerly elegant chamber, then down the long hallway to the left turn, then another right turn, then up the steps to fresh air. The adventurers were all happy to be out of the dark, damp, dank Mont du Plat dungeon. Jorgio realized they would have trouble carrying Fredo’s body all the way back to Crystal Shores, so they quickly improvised a grave, burying Fredo under another cairn of rocks made from the waste rocks laying around the woods that had formerly been part of the Mont du Plat castle. While Fredo was being buried, Vandin impaled Persis’ sword in the ground, and said a short prayer to his fallen comrade. The party also freely drank pure, fresh water from the water cask they had left outside the entrance to the dungeon.

The party then spent the next several hours trudging back to the west to Crystal Shores, lugging their now almost empty water keg with them. About halfway back, they saw a lone wolf, which appeared to be a normal, and not a zombie, wolf. When the party reached Crystal Shores, although it was already dark, they went to visit Herschel the druid straightaway, although Flenda and Gwenette went off to their parents’ home, taking Jorgio with them. Herschel, being informed that the arm and/or ring radiated evil, first cast a Dispel Magic spell upon them, followed by a Detect Magic spell. The Dispel Magic spell evidently failed, as the arm/ring still radiated magic. Herschel then went through the backpack that Falafela had fetched, and found several items: a silver holy symbol, a small flask with a clear fluid in it, presumably water, a book about the dead cleric’s faith of Gairel, two days worth of iron rations (that nobody present wanted to eat!), and, hidden in a fold inside the backpack was a small coin purse that contained 18 GP and 40 SP. The best of the items, though, was a small diary. Herschel started to read the diary, noting that the cleric’s name had been Austius. The diary noted Austius’s career in the clergy. Most of it was rather boring, but near the end, Austius noted how he had found the ring in the dungeon at Mont du Plat. He also noted how he had detected an evil aura about the ring, but was unable to let it go, instead being seduced by its power. But there were no entries that tied the ring to any sort of zombie curse. Falafela mentioned the pages on the desk with the words “I’m sorry,” and Herschel surmised those pages may have been Austius’ next diary entry, or part of a new diary.

The party also surmised (as did Herschel) that the cleric had found the ring, but had then been surprised by the four adventurers who had pursued him to Mont du Plat. In the ensuing battle, it seems that the cleric had managed to turn his slayers into zombies, but not before losing his arm and bleeding to death near the well. Herschel was now convinced that it was the ring in the well that was poisoning the water downstream towards Crystal Shores, but as a precaution he was still going to cast a spell to create pure water for a week or so, and tell the remaining villagers to not drink the lake or river water for at least that period of time. Herschel also mentioned that one more villager had turned into a zombie during the long day in which the party had been away, that being Simius Soderman, the wife of Baduk Soderman, the carpenter. She had been confined to her home. There were also zombies confined in the Inn of the Blushing Trout and the Tavern of the Cracked Mug. Herschel had also found that the tinker, Melchar Furrowbrow and his wife Vinar and his young son Loftus (all gnomes) had been found to be zombies, but must have been so for a few days already.

Herschel expressed that he still hopes to find a cure that will turn the zombified villagers back into their former selves. He spent the rest of the evening consulting his personal library, but could not find any mention of a ring such as was found at Mont du Plat. He mentioned a wise sage friend of his, Karnack, who has a castle to the northeast of Ganzir-Galad. He suggested that the party venture there after they rest for a day or so. Herschel also cast two Cure Light Wounds and one Cure Serious Wounds spells on Vandin and Vox so they were fully cured of their wounds from their battles at Mont du Plat.

Experience points: Monsters killed at Mont du Plat: 11 zombies (20 XP each, plus 2 XP per HP) = 11 * 20 + 141 HP * 2 = 220 + 282 = 502 XP. The party captured three villager zombies at Crystal Lake; they will receive their XP for that (because it was good to capture the villagers instead of killing them as the villagers may be able to be cured): 3 zombies (20 XP each, plus 2 XP per hit point) = 3 * 20 + 2 * 33 HP = 60 + 66 = 126 XP. (Total of 628 XP for capturing/killing monsters.) Treasure: 43 GP, 40 SP, 1 bone and 1 ivory scroll case (worth 5 GP each, or 10 GP total), = 55 GP equivalent. The party also found two magic-user scrolls, Continual Light and Nystul’s Magic Aura, and a cleric scroll, Create Water, in the found scroll tubes, but will not receive XP for them unless they are sold. Also, 1 backpack, a silver holy symbol, a vial of clear fluid, 2 days worth of iron rations (which were discarded due to health concerns), two turquoises, and a clear rock crystal, which were all together worth the equivalent of 149 GP. So, the total money (and equivalent) XP value is 55 +149 = 204 GP equivalent.

Total experience points: 502 + 126 + 204 = 832 XP total. This needs to be divided by five regular characters (each gets a full share) and four non-player characters (each gets a half-share). Fredo and Persis, NPCs who were killed, do not get any shares. This makes 14 half-shares to be divided, so 832 / 14 = 59 XP per half-share (Flenda, Gwenette, Jorgio, Tureg), or 119 XP per full share (Falafela, Lightstep, Opalent, Vandin, Vox). The fighter Vox gets a 10% XP bonus due to his Strength of 16, so he actually earned 131 XP.

Before the party retired for the night, they divided the treasure thusly: Falafela: 9 GP, small coin purse; Flenda: 1 small turquoise; Gwenette: 1 small turquoise; Jorgio: 7 GP, 40 SP, leather backpack (from Austius); Lightstep: 9 GP, ivory scroll tube, clerical scroll with Create Water, glass vial with a clear liquid, silver holy symbol of the god Gairel (from Austius’ backpack); Opalent: 1 clear rock crystal, 2 magic scrolls with Continual Light and Nystul’s Magic Aura; Vandin: 9 GP; Vox: 9 GP. Tureg said he did not need any of the treasure as he had just inherited 21 PP and 135 EP from his fallen comrade Persis. Herschel kept the book about Gairel as well as Austius’ diary.

It was decided that the bone scroll tube they found would be used to carry the evil skull-head ring to Karnack’s castle. Lightstep agreed to carry it himself, just before the party were about to cast lots to see who would carry the evil thing.

Also, before the party retired for the night, Flenda and Gwenette’s parents, Vilan and Vilanious Deathmar saw that their daughters were each equipped with leather backpacks, wineskins, and wool blankets. The parents also ensured their offspring each had 7 days worth of jerky, dried fruit, and hardtack to take with them, as well as four torches each. The girls also scrounged up a wineskin for their friend Jorgio, and made sure he also had 7 days worth of food and 4 torches. Tureg searched through the village and found another 4 torches for him to take along, also.

Then Flenda, Gwenette, and Jorgio retired for the night at the Deathmar’s house, with the other party members sleeping in the loft of Mylene Ackmard’s barn. It was decided that two party members should stand watch at all times throughout the night, just in case one of them turned into a zombie in the middle of the night. Lightstep and Vandin took the first watch, with Vandin relating the story of how he received his “Lakesplitter” surname from a distant relative who was said to have cleaved a lake in two. The rest of the night passed without incident.

Total accumulated experience points: Lightstep 605; Vandin Lakesplitter 576; Falafela 566; Opalent 566; Vox the Just 309; Tureg 271; Flenda 74; Gwenette 61; Jorgio 61.

— The Dungeon Master

Will the party ever find a cure for the zombie villagers? Keep reading future posts and find out!

Journey to Crystal Shores

Monday, December 21st, 2015

This is another installment related to some Dungeons & Dragons adventurers.

Day #2-23 (Earthday, 3rd Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): Finally, after several days’ rest, the party departed from Elwood’s citadel early one morn, when the dew was still heavy upon the grass. They were Falafela the halfling thief, Lightstep the halfling cleric, Opalent the elven magic-user, Vandin Lakesplitter the dwarven fighter, Vox “the Just” the human fighter, along with their dwarven fighter pals Persis and Tureg, and also with the rescued captives from Losnoth, Flenda and Gwenette and Jorgio and Fredo. This time the party took all of their possessions with them, including their money, as it was uncertain when they would get back to Elwood’s citadel. On the two previous trips to Losnoth they had left most of their money in the care of Elwood. They followed the familiar path along the stream to the northeast towards Losnoth, but when they drew near to that place, they skirted it and turned north instead. Just before they turned north from Losnoth they all also drank their fill from the small stream, and filled all of their water-skins to the brim. Several miles north of Losnoth the party came upon the half-eaten remains of an animal, most likely a deer, probably half-eaten by the roving leopards they had been told about when at Elwood’s citadel.

Along the journey, the sisters mentioned how some of the villagers near their home had started coming down with some mysterious illness just before they were captured by the orcs. People had become lethargic, got sore throats, and then started coughing. They were hoping they would find everyone well when they got home. They also hoped their parents were well and hadn’t worried about them too much.

Finally, about 15 miles north of Losnoth, and about 25 miles total from Elwood’s citadel, the party came into the small fishing village of Crystal Shores, which lay along the south shore of the diminutive Crystal Lake. The sisters Flenda and Gwenette pointed out some local places to the party, particularly the Inn of the Blushing Trout and the druid’s residence, and then the girls left the party to rush home to re-unite with their parents.

First, the party went to the Blushing Trout and spoke with the innkeeper, Sathe Lidorn. Sathe and his daughter Lido attended to the adventurers while Sathe also mentioned that his wife, Beefa, was sick and in bed. Sathe seemed to cough more than would seem healthy when serving food to strangers, and Lido was strangely pale and sickly looking, so the party decided to just eat their hardtack and jerky they had toted from Elwood’s instead of eating who knows what. The party then went next door to Mylene Ackmard’s barn. Mylene mentioned how she was trying to establish a stop on a caravan route, and while she had three wagons ready to roll, she hadn’t acquired any draft horses to pull the wagons just quite yet.

Next, the party paid a visit to the resident cleric, Wider Veldar, at his church dedicated to the Goddess Koassek. Wider asked the party to kindly leave their weapons outside the shrine when they came inside to talk, and Vandin stayed outside to guard the armory. Wider confided to the party that he was quite concerned about how everyone was getting quite sick. He also repeated the story (first told by Sathe and Mylene) about a lone cleric who had traveled through Crystal Shores about four or five weeks ago, followed by a party of four adventurers. They all traveled upstream along the river to the east. While neither the cleric nor the adventurers ever returned to Crystal Shores, it was shortly after their passage that village folks started getting sick. Wider mentioned how a number of villagers seemed to think that the passing cleric and adventurers had something to do with the illness, but Wider is mystified how they could have caused anything like what was happening in the village. The party also noticed that Wider had quite a large pumpkin patch behind his church.

The party then continued downslope towards the lake, stopping at the residence of Herschel Gobinmyer, the druid. Herschel was a bit older than most of the other residents of the village, and he invited the party to partake of some delicious spiced pumpkin ale that Hershel brewed himself. Herschel mentioned that he noticed a number of sickly animals in the area in addition to the humans, and he was mystified because he couldn’t cure the disease in any of his animal friends. He also related the story of Zeb and Trigo, two villagers who became sick and then turned into sort of “living dead” creatures who started to attack other people. Trigo was a dwarf who used to dig for coal in the vicinity, and Zeb was a fisherman. He pointed out the plume of black smoke to the northwest along the lakefront that was Trigo and Zeb’s funeral pyre. Herschel said he wanted to examine the bodies to see if he could glean any information, but the other villagers were afraid of the two dead bodies coming back to “life” again only to attack more people. The villagers also wanted to contain any spread of the disease, so they burned the bodies. Herschel also confided that he thought the cleric and/or adventurers who traveled to the east may have caused the illness somehow. He also mentioned the ruins at Mont du Plat, about 10 miles east along the river. He strongly suggested the party travel there to try to get to the bottom of things, to see if they could determine anything that might be causing the pestilence that was plaguing Crystal Shores. The party tried to invite Herschel to join them in their quest to Mont du Plat, but he remarked that he was too old for any more adventuring.

The party then went to visit with Flenda and Gwenette’s parents, Vilan and Vilanious Deathmar. Vilan was the town’s leatherworker, and when the party approached his residence, Vilan had a large aromatic (meaning it smelled really bad) pot of boiling leather in front of his place. Vilan admitted that he was the person who had to kill Trigo, as Trigo and Zeb were about to attack another villager and that villager’s wife. Vilan, who also had a darker complexion than other villagers, admitted to being a “barbarian from the north.” While he thanked the party profusely for rescuing his daughters, he mentioned how the girls came to be so warlike. He said they just naturally took after their father, although Vilan also said with a chuckle, “But if anything, at times their mother is even more warlike than me!” He said he queried Flenda about the two orc ears on her belt, and he said how he had smiled when she related the story of being rescued, but then after having her bonds cut she was too late to join in the slaying of the orcs who were just about to sacrifice her, so in her frenzy she at least took a “trophy” of the ears!

The group then went to the Inn of the Wasp and spoke with its proprietor, Enaldie Gryni. One feature of Enaldie’s place is the large fishing net set to catch drunken guests who might fall off his elevated porch. While there were a few other patrons in the place, none of them would speak with the party. In fact, most of the other patrons were shooting dirty looks in the party’s direction. Enaldie did get Opalent, Vandin, Persis and Tureg to try his special drink, the “Wasp Stinger,” for a silver piece per drink. Most of the others merely had ale for 3 copper pieces each. Fortunately, the “Stingers” did not have any bad effects on the party, and when they found that they could not rent rooms at Enaldie’s inn due to ongoing renovations of the sleeping area, the party decided to go back to the Blushing Trout to procure rooms for the night.

While most of the party headed back to the Blushing Trout, Lightstep and Opalent did a little more exploring. They traveled northeast along the lakeshore, passing the boarded up home of Zeb along the lakefront, and then poked their heads into the Tavern of the Cracked Mug next door. There were three men in the tavern, clustered around the bar. None of them seemed to notice the door opening. Lightstep and Opalent then decided the prudent course of action was to retire from the scene, closing the door behind them.

The party then retired for the night, with the males in one room and the two females Falafela and Opalent in another room, while Flenda and Gwenette slept in their own beds at their parents’ home. Since none of the males of the party quite trusted Jorgio and Fredo, the other guys took turns staying awake “on watch” to make sure none of their possessions vanished in the night. They were all glad to have beds to sleep in after having hiked 25 miles or so during the day’s journey to Crystal Shores, and except when on guard duty, they all slept quite soundly.

— The Dungeon Master

Getting to Know the Rescued Captives

Monday, December 21st, 2015

After their third adventure at Losnoth, the party returned to Breathy Footsore’s inn near the citadel of Elwood the Blue.

Days #2-17 through #2-22 (Waterday, 17th Thawmist, through Waterday, 2nd Dewsnap): Once back at Breathy’s inn, most of the party stayed in their two cabins, with the women, Falafela, Opalent, and their guests, Flenda and Gwenette, staying in the nicer of the two cabins, while Lightstep, Vandin, and Vox shared the more run-down cabin with Persis and Tureg. Since the party didn’t totally trust the two brothers they rescued, Jorgio and Fredo bunked upstairs in the dormitory at Breathy’s inn. On 18th Thawmist, Elwood interviewed the party, and was interested to hear about the large stone idol in the sacrifice room. Pangborn left Elwood’s citadel on the next supply wagon that returned to Popinjay so he could give his personal report to Hawkmoon. Tureg slowly regained his strength, and by the 2nd Dewsnap he was in pretty good shape once again.

While the party was resting in order for Tureg to heal, Flenda and Gwenette filled in the party as to how they came to be captured by the orcs. Gwenette did most of the speaking. “We come from a village about 15 miles north of Losnoth. That village is named Crystal Shores, and it is on the south shore of a lake named Crystal Lake which is just south of the Marshes of Rust. The lake is not that large, but is a wide spot in the south branch of the River Bushkill that flows to the River Trollhraun, which itself flows to the Winedark Sea. Flenda and I decided to go berry and herb and mushroom gathering in the nearby Alder Thicket, which are some thick woods to the southeast of our village. Some folks call it a jungle. Anyway, it was a nice spring day a couple of weeks ago, and although my sister and I are skilled in the use of swords and such, we decided there would be no danger to us, so we took no weapons with us. Hah! That was our mistake. We wandered into the woods around mid-morning, when suddenly we were surrounded by eight orcs. We were astonished to see them in the daylight, but seeing as we had a thick canopy of tree leaves over us, the light was not strong and so it bothered not the orcs. We were quickly bound and marched through the woods to the south, then made a camp at the edge of the forest until dusk.”

Gwenette continued, “When it got dark enough the orcs blindfolded us, then marched us to the west. They probably thought we wouldn’t know which way we were headed, but since we were out of the trees it had to be to the west as the other three directions would have all been still in the trees. Finally, we were marched up a hill covered with rock rubble, then down into the dungeon. Although still blindfolded, we could tell we were underground as footsteps echoed off of the hard rock walls in the corridors. After a number of turns, we were finally shoved into the room in which you found me.”

Both girls then spoke of the long hours and days spent in the room, when finally a party of orcs came and fetched Flenda, after having first given her the white silk gown and white slippers to wear. They marched her off to the sacrificial chamber, tied her down, and were preparing a ritual sacrifice. Flenda then said, “I was trying to uphold my heritage of being descended from a tribe of fierce warriors, and tried to maintain my silence, but when it looked like I was well and truly doomed, I let out a yell like I was trying to summon any nearby kin to my aid. Then a miracle happened as the next thing I knew some unknown party was laying into the orcs and felling them about. Then a tall elven princess, at least I thought she was a princess, cut the ropes that bound me to the altar. But aarrggghhh! The orcs were already all slain. Oh, but I wanted to pay them back dearly! But at least I got the ears as a trophy from one of them!” Flenda chuckled as she mentioned gathering the ears.

During this period of resting, Flenda took time to carefully preserve those orc ears, drying them in the sun, even salting them from a supply of salt she obtained from one of Breathy Footsore’s daughters, Shannowy. Flenda also begged a new set of clothing from Shannowy, as Flenda did not want to go around wearing the white gown she was rescued in all of the time as she did not get to recover her own garments from Losnoth when she was rescued. Flenda also got some leather from a soldier at Elwood’s citadel, and she fashioned a belt to wear. And on the belt she fastened those orc ears by poking holes in the tops of the ears and tying them to the belt with some leather cord.

All the while, while waiting for Tureg to heal, Flenda and Gwenette were chafing at the bit to return to their home, but Elwood wisely talked them out of trying to travel alone, mentioning the known hunting leopards in the area, not to mention that if they had been captured by orcs in the wilderness once, they could be captured the same way again. The sisters did mention they were unarmed the first time, but were now armed with swords and wouldn’t be easily taken the next time. The party was willing to escort the girls to their home, of course, but did not want to leave Tureg behind.

Fredo and Jorgio talked a little about themselves, too. They said they had been taken under similar circumstances, although their village, Jungala (pronounced with a long “u”), was about 10 miles to the southeast of Losnoth, as far as they could reckon. Their village was right on the verge of a more southern part of the Alder Thicket, and the two brothers had gone into the woods to check on some animal traps as they were both apprentice fur-trappers. They had also been suddenly surrounded by about nine or ten orcs, bound, and marched to the dungeon at Losnoth. They had been armed with daggers, but quickly realized the folly it would have been to match their two daggers against five times as many swords. While the brothers were both keen to send word to their village of their whereabouts, they did seem content to pass the days near Breathy’s in the company of Flenda and Gwenette, in particular. In didn’t take too much talking by Elwood to convince the brothers to not try to venture home by themselves either, but rather to wait until the other members of the party could escort them to their home.

While the party was taking this break, the month changed from Thawmist to Dewsnap. Using Balozkinar’s Corrected Commoners Calendar, each month has exactly 20 days, divided into four weeks of five days each. The days of the week are, in order, Airday, Waterday, Earthday, Fireday, and Spiritday. The calendar allows for no “week-ends” as are known in some other areas. Also, at the end of the year is an End of Year Festival of usually five days, although it will have six days during a leap year. Then the New Year begins on the Vernal Equinox, when spring starts. Thawmist and Dewsnap are two of the spring months, followed by Flowerbloom and Sweetrain.

— The Dungeon Master

Third Time at Losnoth: Will it be a Charm?

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

Just in case someone just stumbled upon this blog, you should know that the stories related are all fantasy. They are the adventures of a bunch of fictional characters in the role-playing game of Dungeons & Dragons. Just so you know. And now, on with the latest adventure installment….

Day #2-16 (Airday, 16th Thawmist, 4333 BCCC): Once again, Falafela, Lightstep, Opalent, Vandin Lakesplitter, Vox the Just, and Persis and Tureg, departed their cabins next to Breathy Footsore’s inn and headed to the northeast towards the ruins of Losnoth. This time, though, they had an extra human in the party, the cleric Pangborn, who had been sent from Hawkmoon’s citadel near Popinjay to get a first-hand account of what was at Losnoth. Pangborn came well equipped, wearing chainmail and carrying a small shield. He was armed with a footman’s mace and a sling, and had many accoutrements such as a backpack, a wineskin (containing water), a hooded lantern, five flasks of oil, a rope, and belladonna, garlic, and wolvesbane. Pangborn appeared to be quite young, and it appeared that none of his equipment had been used in any previous fights. But the party was glad to have another body along, if only to use as a “meatshield” for their magic-user Opalent.

After the 10-mile hike, the party arrived at the ruins of Losnoth. The party quickly ascended the steep 60-foot high hill and then descended the south stairwell into the dungeon, which was the same stairwell they had used during their previous visit seven days ago. They did also note in passing that the stairwell they had used during their first visit was still blocked off with rocks as it was during their most recent visit.

This time they moved quickly through the foyer with the two orc warrior statues on guard at the bottom of the stairs and opened the door in the wall on the far side of the foyer. Inside that door was a 20’ x 20’ room that had two wooden doors on the far side wall. It seemed to have been a waiting room of some sort at one time as it had two padded sofas in it. The cushions looked to have at one time been covered with a rich, red fabric, but now they were badly worn and soiled. On the left side wall hung the remnants of a picture frame, but whatever picture it may have once contained was long gone.

The party continued their explorations by opening the door on the left on the far wall. They found it be to a cloakroom off the waiting room. There were rows of pegs along all of its walls, and indeed there were still four old, tattered, black cloaks hanging on four of the pegs. A quick examination of the cloaks revealed them to be quite useless; they looked as if they would rip even more if anyone tried to use them to haul any coins, for example. They were left in place.

The party then checked out the worn and stained red fabric cushions on the sofas in the waiting room. Falafela, in particular, checked every inch of the cushions, pressing her hands on the cushions trying to determine if any items were hidden within the cushions. Nothing was found.

The party then opened the door to the right, and found more hallways on the other side. After a 10-foot straight part, the hall went to the left and to the right. Scouting quickly to the left showed that the hall turned to its left, then dead-ended after 10 more feet. So the party then went to the right. Immediately upon turning right, the hall came to a four-way intersection. Dead-ahead and to the right were dead-ends after 10 feet, but there was a real hallway to the left. Taking that hallway, the party had to turn 90 degrees to the left after 20 feet, then after another 10 feet of travel they entered a five-way intersection. It was a sort of X-shaped intersection, and their hallway entered the X between two of the X’s legs.

Investigating that five-way intersection, the group found that the two left-side hallways each dead-ended after ten feet. The far diagonal right-side hallway went about 20 feet and then there was a stone stairway leading up. But after only about 10 feet up, large rocks and boulders that had been dumped down from above blocked all the rest of the way on those stairs. The party briefly discussed if this was the initial stairs they had descended upon their first visit to Losnoth, but quickly discarded the idea as the original stairway had a pit trap at its bottom, and then the hall from those original stairs led directly into the dining hall. The party also wondered how many other stairways might exist to the surface, and how many of them were blocked off.

The party then had no choice but to take the near right-side passage that bent sharply back from the hallway they had entered the intersection from. That hallway went straight for about 20 feet, then made a gentle curve to the left. There was then a door in their path, but it was partly open. Peeking through the door and shining a torch, they recognized that they were back in the dining hall. They also realized they were entering the dining hall from the same door a party of orcs used to battle the adventurers during their last visit to Losnoth. Realizing that, they made sure to watch their back trail to ensure no orcs snuck up on them.

They then took the right side passage out of the dining hall, which was in the middle of the hourglass shaped narrow part of the room (the now blocked stairway they originally used to enter Losnoth was to their left), and sent Falafela to take a peek down the hallway to their right. The party knew that the left hallway led to the trophy room that they had visited before, so they did not go in that direction. Falafela crept carefully down the hall, then found the hall turned to the left and widened to about 20 feet in width. Edging her way along about 30 feet of wall, keeping her back glued to the wall, she could see into a large, circular chamber with a domed ceiling. The chamber may have been as much as 100 feet in diameter, and the center of the domed ceiling seemed about 25 feet high. The chamber also seemed to be dimly illuminated by some sort of artificial light. Falafela saw several orcs with their backs to her, and the orcs were looking at a large stone idol that was in a sitting position. That idol also had an open mouth and large fangs within that mouth, with what looked like dried bloodstains around the mouth. There was a fuming brazier between the altar and the idol. Falafela edged her way back to her companions and was going to suggest the party should go a different direction when the party heard a human female scream coming from the circular chamber. It was then evident that the orcs were planning a sacrifice.

The party then went into battle mode, sneaking up on the pre-occupied orcs. Although the party had to maneuver around some wooden benches between them and the orcs, fortunately the orcs all had their attention focused on their intended victim who was tied to a blood-stained stone altar. The orcs were also making a fair amount of noise with some sort of a ritual chant. Suddenly Persis, Tureg, Vandin, and Vox struck surprise blows to the rear rank of orcs. At the same time, Opalent launched her Magic Missile spell that severely wounded an orc in the front row, although not felling it. Then the melee was on. Lightstep and Pangborn also entered the fray before it was all over. Tureg was wounded and knocked unconscious by the orcs, but Falafela dragged him out of harm’s way and bound his wounds. Also during the melee, Opalent ran around the orcs and cut the captive’s rope bonds. Just about the time the captive was freed, the last of the nine orcs took a permanent nap. The captive was clothed in a white silk gown with small white cloth slippers, and she revealed her name was Flenda. Before she thanked the party for saving her, though, she quickly picked up a sword from one of the fallen orcs and cut both its ears off! She was furious she hadn’t been able to join in the battle to kill some of the orcs who were about to kill her! She also then donned a set of scale mail armor from one of the dead orcs.

With Tureg sorely wounded, the party was ready to leave the dungeon in order to get the fallen Tureg back to Elwood’s citadel as soon as possible, but Flenda announced she wasn’t going to leave the dungeon until she found her imprisoned sister, Gwenette. So, the party agreed to help find and free the sister. While Falafela, Persis, and Vox stayed with Tureg in the center of the chamber, the others followed Flenda towards where Flenda believed her sister was being held. The party took a wide hallway out of the sacrificial chamber just past the idol’s right ear, then quickly turned left and then back to the right. Flenda led the party down this corridor that had three stone columns down its centerline to an orc barracks room where there were eight orcs sleeping in four bunk beds. The party still wanted to leave, but Flenda shushed the party and boldly entered the room and started slitting the throats of the sleeping orcs with her prize sword. Then Opalent joined in the slaughter with her dagger, and soon the eight orcs would dream no more. Lightstep and Vandin were too short to reach the orcs sleeping in the top bunks, not to mention that they were not armed with any edged weapons, so they would have had difficulty in silently slaying sleeping orcs, so they didn’t join in the dispatching of the orcs. Afterwards Vandin marveled at how bloodthirsty was Flenda!

There were two doors showing on the far wall of the barracks room, and the right-hand door was padlocked. The party quickly found some keys hanging on the wall between a pair of bunk beds, and they found one of the keys unlocked that padlock. When they opened the door, however, instead of finding Gwenette, they found a pair of human brothers, Jorgio and Fredo. The brothers quickly availed themselves of two orc short swords and leather armor. Once again, the party was ready to depart, but Flenda would have none of it. She was sure there was a secret door along one wall, so finally Vandin and Pangborn with their hammer and mace, respectively, soon bashed in the secret door, thus freeing Gwenette to reunite her with her sister Flenda. Gwenette also took a set of leather armor and a short sword and scabbard from a peg on the wall that was between two bunk beds.

Now the party decided it truly was time to depart, with haste. They quickly retraced their steps to the sacrificial chamber where, to their relief, they found all of their compatriots waiting for them. Jorgio and Fredo graciously offered to carry the unconscious Tureg out of the dungeon. Once out of the dungeon, the party retraced their path the long 10 miles back to Elwood’s citadel.

Experience points: Monsters killed: 17 orcs (10 XP each, plus 1 XP per HP) = 17 * 10 + 93 HP = 263 XP. These are divided into two batches. The first 9 orcs were dispatched by the original party members only, so only those party members will claim credit for their 136 experience points. The second group of 8 orcs was dispatched with the help of Flenda, so she will share in the 127 experience points along with all original party members except Tureg (who was unconcious at the time).

The party didn’t find any treasure on this trip. They had barely entered the dungeon when they got involved in the melee with the orcs in the sacrificial chamber. However, since the party did the right thing in rescuing the prisoners, especially by rescuing Flenda just before she was to meet her fate, the wise and benevolent dungeon master awarded 25 XP per victim rescued, making a total of 100 XP. These points are only divided amongst the original party members.

The party did also retrieve four short swords and scabbards (worth 8 GP each, or 32 GP total), a set of scale mail (worth 45 GP), and three sets of leather armor (worth 5 GP each, or 15 GP total). The total worth of salvaged weapons and armor was thus 92 GP. That total also gets added to experience. However, the scale mail and one short sword that was claimed by Flenda will get split among the original party plus Flenda (53 GP worth), while the remaining 29 GP value for 3 sets of leather armor and 3 short swords will get divided amongst all of the original party members except Tureg (who was unconsicous by this time), but adding in Flenda, Fredo, Jorgio, and Gwenette.

Total experience points = 263 + 100 + 92 = 455. This was divided by a complicated formula, and when all was said and done, these were the awarded XP: Falafela 67 XP; Lightstep 67; Opalent 67; Vandin 67; Vox 74 (includes his 10% bonus for high strength); Pangborn 37 (includes a 10% bonus for high wisdom); Persis 33; Tureg 22; Flenda 15; Fredo 2; Gwenette 2; Jorgio 2.

Total accumulated experience points: Lightstep 486; Vandin Lakesplitter 457; Falafela 447; Opalent 447; Persis 223; Tureg 212; Vox the Just 178; Pangborn 37; Flenda 15; Fredo 2; Gwenette 2; Jorgio 2.

— The Dungeon Master

PS Originally, the Dungeon Master forgot to calculate in the value of the weapons and armor retrieved from the dungeon, but now those values have been added in and experience point (XP) values adjusted.

Another Rest Period at Breathy’s

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

Days #2-10 through #2-15 (Spiritday, 10th Thawmist, through Spiritday, 15th Thawmist, 4333 BCCC): Since their recent return from Losnoth, the party of Falafela, Lightstep, Opalent, Vandin Lakesplitter, Vox the Just, along with their dwarf pals Persis and Tureg, rested in the two cabins near Breathy’s inn near the citadel of Elwood the Blue. They put in orders through Elwood for the supply wagon from Popinjay to bring them some wineskins, as Falafela, Vandin, and Vox lacked any means of carrying water. Lightstep also ordered and received a sling and 12 sling bullets. This message was delivered to Popinjay by the regular messenger service between Elwood and Popinjay. When the weekly supply wagon arrived at Elwood’s citadel from Popinjay, a human cleric, Pangborn, arrived along with the ordered merchandise. Pangborn had been sent by Hawkmoon to get some first-hand experience with what was going on at Losnoth.

Also while at the cabins, the halflings Falafela and Lightstep, with help from Breathy’s daughters Gertrude and Shannowy, shortened their black cloaks that were brought back from Losnoth, as adult-length cloaks would have been too long for those two halflings.

During this interlude, a bit of game “housekeeping” took place. The characters all rolled dice for age, height, and weight, which caused some adjustments to their basic characteristics. The age rolls were as from pages 12 and 13 of the 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide. Height and weight were determined from the tables on page 102 of that same DM Guide.

The Dungeon Master's venerable, well-used DM Guide

The Dungeon Master’s venerable, well-used DM Guide

  • Falafela is 44 years old (mature halfling, add 1 point each of strength and wisdom), 2’8” and 40 lbs.
  • Lightstep is 27 (young adult halfling, subtract 1 point of wisdom, add 1 point of constitution), 3’1”, 55 lbs.
  • Opalent is 167 (young adult elf, subtract 1 point of wisdom, add 1 point of constitution), 6’1”, 115 lbs.
  • Vandin is 50 (young adult dwarf, subtract 1 point of wisdom, add 1 point of constitution), 3’4”, 120 lbs.
  • Vox is 17 (young adult human, subtract 1 point of wisdom, add 1 point of constitution), 5’7”, 160 lbs.

I suppose I should explain the notation of such as “Day #2-10” etc. A long time ago (i.e., around 1980) when I DM’ed for Dungeons & Dragons, I kept a sort of journal of what days the adventurers were active. And especially because there were more than one group of adventurers, I needed to keep the chronology to keep straight what happened when. If one group went into a dungeon on day 3 and found some particular treasure and removed it from the dungeon, a different party visiting that dungeon on day 6 would not be able to find that same treasure. Back then I just called the days “day 1” or “day 5”, etc, so when I started the new campaign in 2015 I decided to preface the day numbers with “Year 2”, hence now the days are known as “Day #2-10”, and so forth.

— The Dungeon Master

Return to Losnoth

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Day #2-9 (Fireday, 9th Thawmist, 4333 BCCC): Early in the pre-dawn, Falafela, Lightstep, Opalent, Vandin Lakesplitter, along with the three remaining dwarves they met a week ago at Losnoth, Narvet, Persis, and Tureg, and their new human fighter acquaintance Vox the Just, left Elwood the Blue’s citadel and ventured to Losnoth. It was about a 10-mile hike, mostly in a northeast direction. The hiking was mostly easy as the land was flat, the spring weather cool and mild, and their route paralleled a small stream just to the south of the party.

When the party arrived at Losnoth, they climbed the steep slope to the top of the hill amid the rubble of the old castle, but they could not find the stairway they had used to descend into the dungeon on their previous visit. Or rather they found where the stairway had been, but orcs or someone else had barricaded that stairway with numerous boulders and other rockwork. The party then spread out amongst the ruins of Losnoth and soon Narvet found another stairway leading down that was about 150 feet south-southeast of the previous stairway. The party ordered themselves, lit a torch (carried by Lightstep), and descended the stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs, the party saw hallways leading to their left and to their right, and a sort of foyer directly in front of them. That foyer was about 10-foot square, and on each side of the area was a diagonal alcove with each alcove containing a stone statue of an orc warrior guarding it. The two far corners of the area had diagonal hallways leading away into the dark, and on the far wall, between those two diagonal hallways, was a door, just slightly to the right of the center of the wall. The thief, Falafela, was totally creeped out by the statues and was wondering if they had any enchantment cast upon them that might allow the statues to come to life. Opalent and Falafela checked around the statues for any tricks or traps, and were finally satisfied that they were indeed just statues. The party checked out the door on the other side of the entrance foyer, but did not open it. They also peeked down the two diagonal passageways leaving the other side of the foyer, but did not take those routes. Instead, the party proceeded down the hallway to the left of the stairs.

After a short distance, perhaps 40 feet or so, the hallway turned either right or left. The party held to the left, then turned sharply to the right. After another several minutes of turning right and left, and even in a circle once, the party realized they were in some sort of a maze. The party, particularly Opalent and Falafela, checked at several places for secret doors, but found none. The group then decided to backtrack before getting totally lost and returned to the foyer.

The party then ventured down the diagonal passage to the right. When they came to a wye intersection that veered diagonally left and right, they went to the right. Then the passage turned to the right again and they saw that the corridor ended with doors to the right and to the left. They found the left-hand door was locked, and Falafela failed to pick the lock. They then tried the right-hand door and found it opened easily. They entered what seemed to be a wizard’s laboratory, finding a large slate table with various flasks, funnels, retorts and other paraphernalia upon it, although it did not appear to have been used lately. There was also a large brass brazier near the far-right corner of the room, and the walls had some storage cabinets containing 40 jars with various items inside the jars. Opalent took some crystals out of two of the jars, also picking up and keeping three prisms from the table, as well as a 6” length of chalk. The tallest member of the party, Vox, retrieved six half-burned candles from a circular chandelier that was suspended above the table.

Next, the party investigated a door on the far side of the laboratory, finding an old burlap sack in a corner in that room. Although the sack was too rotten to carry anything, the party did find a large number of electrum pieces within the sack. There were also four black cloaks laying on the floor, and when the party went to use one of the cloaks as a sack to carry the money back into the lab in order to count and distribute, a bone tube rolled out of one of the cloaks. Deigning not to open it on the spot, lest it contain a cursed item, Opalent stashed the tube with her belongings. Opalent also claimed one of the cloaks for herself, Falafela doing likewise. Vox and Lightstep then decided to take the last two cloaks. After returning to the lab they all counted the electrum pieces and found there were 750 of them. They quickly distributed the electrum pieces (each character got 94 EP, except Lightstep who only took 93 EP), and the adventurers stashed their newfound loot in their backpacks and other paraphernalia as best they could.

The party then decided to try the locked door on the other side of the hallway. They first had Vox strike the door with his long sword, which made a loud booming sound, thus arousing something on the other side of the door. The party could hear voices on the other side of the door, but could not discern what manner of creatures were speaking. Then Vox and Vandin (with his hammer) bashed the door in with three more heavy blows. When the door splintered and was opened, the party saw seven goblins within the room. The goblins did not have any weapons or armor, and quickly made mention of the fact they were slaves of some orcs. Fortunately, most of the party (except Vox) could understand the goblin tongue. The goblins begged the party to give the goblins weapons so they could kill the orcs who had enslaved them. While the party was speaking, a loud orcish sounding voice sounded through the door on the other side of the room, asking what all the loud banging was about. The goblins yelled back that they had been fighting amongst themselves because they couldn’t stand being cooped up with one another. Besides the goblins, the party noticed a number of straw sleeping mats on the floor, and in one corner was a small wooden table and two chairs. On the table was a jar with some jerky, and also a water jug.

While the party was parleying with the goblins, in particular musing over whether to believe the goblins’ claim that there was great treasure on a lower level of the dungeon, the orcs in the next room decided to investigate. The orcs sent three of their number around to the corridor the adventurers had used to enter the goblins’ room. The party had failed to post a guard in the hall; all eight adventurers and seven goblins were crammed into the 20’ x 30’ room of the goblins. When the circumnavigating orcs arrived at the sundered door, they sent up a loud cry that was the signal for other orcs in the room on the other side of the goblins’ room to unlock and open their door and attempt to barge into the room. The cleric, Lightstep, had just extinguished his torch, so when the orcs tried to barge into the room from their barracks room, Vox was in their way. Although Vox could not see to battle the orcs in the total darkness, not having infravision, he was shoved out of the way and the dwarf Narvet stood against the orcs at that door. Another dwarf, Persis, held the orcs at bay at the sundered door. In the meantime, Lightstep was furiously trying to re-light his torch. Fortunately for the party in the room, only one orc at a time could offer battle at each of the two doorways. Persis did a fine job against the three orcs arrayed against him at his doorway, as he slew each of the orcs in turn, receiving only a minor scratch in return. At the other doorway from the orcs’ room, Narvet matched up against the orcs at first, but Narvet was fatally felled. Then Vandin Lakesplitter bounded into the fray, not only barring entrance to the orcs, but also hammering them severely. After Vandin pounded three orcs to their doom, the other orcs beat a hasty retreat out of the other side of their room.

The party quickly reached a decision to not pursue the fleeing orcs, calculating that the orcs knew their way around the dungeon far better than the party, and also that if the party was to quickly pursue they would not be able to map their way through the dungeon, and could become lost. Not to mention that they didn’t know how many more orcs would or could arrive as reinforcements. The party quickly looked into the orcs’ 30’ x 40’ room, finding 10 bunk-beds (20 total bunks) and 20 footlockers that were either on the floor at the end of a bunk-bed or else under the bottom bunks. There were also 11 sets of leather armor hanging on pegs near the beds. (When the orcs investigated the commotion in the goblins’ room, they hadn’t taken the time to don their armor, figuring the noise would probably amount to nothing.) The party thought about checking the contents of the footlockers, but decided that orcs probably didn’t have much personal treasure and that they shouldn’t tarry in the neighborhood any longer. The party ordered the goblins to stay behind for five minutes after the adventurers left, lest the party have to slay the goblins. The party left the 6 dead orcs’ short-swords for the goblins to use to either fight the orcs or to make their way to freedom. The party did not see the goblins again after that.

The party then retraced their steps with haste, heading back to the diagonal passage and then leaving through the foyer and up the stairway. They also carried the dead body of the brave dwarf, Narvet, with them. They were also able to bring Narvet’s armor, arms, and possessions with them. Along the way back, some party members thought that Vandin should change his surname from Lakesplitter to Orcsplitter. Although, to be true, Vandin didn’t so much as split orcs, instead he literally bashed their brains out. After that, the party trudged the long 10 miles back to Elwood’s citadel, where Elwood questioned them about their encounter. He wanted to know how many orcs the party had met, or if any other creatures were encountered. Elwood’s ears picked up when the party mentioned they had found some black cloaks. Elwood asked if there was a red insignia of a burning eye on the cloaks, but the party replied that they were just plain black cloaks. The wizard’s laboratory also piqued Elwood’s interest. Elwood mentioned how the evil wizard, Lareth, had orchestrated an attack upon the village of Hommlet a number of years ago, but that Lareth had escaped and had not been seen since.

After burying Narvet alongside his previously fallen companions Arwarr, Firmil, and Hucid, the adventurers settled into the two abandoned cabins near Breathy’s inn, there to rest up and plan for further adventures. The cleric Lightfoot also cast Detect Magic (the item was magical) and Detect Evil (no evil was detected) upon the bone tube before Opalent opened it to view the contents. When the tube was opened, the contents were revealed to be two magic-user scrolls, one holding a Hold Portal spell, the other was a Jump spell.

Experience points: Monsters killed: 6 orcs (10 XP each, plus 1 XP per HP) = 6 * 10 + 30 HP = 90 XP. Although the party let the goblins go instead of killing them, they will still receive their XP for that (because good characters shouldn’t go around killing unarmed, sentient creatures!). 7 goblins (10 XP each, plus 1 XP per hit point) = 7 * 10 + 30 HP = 100 XP. Treasure: 750 EP, 4 cloaks (worth 5 SP each, or 1 GP total) = 376 GP equivalent. The party also found two magic scrolls, Hold Portal and Jump, but will not receive XP for them unless they are sold.

Total experience points: 90 + 100 + 375 + 1 = 566 XP total. This needs to be divided by five regular characters (each gets a full share) and two non-player characters (each gets a half-share). This makes 12 half-shares to be divided, so 566 / 12 = 47 XP per half-share (Persis and Tureg), or 94 XP per full share (Falafela and Opalent). The cleric Lightstep and the fighter Vox get a 10% XP bonus, so they earned 104 XP. Vandin Lakesplitter also earned a 10% bonus for excellent play of his dwarven fighter and thus also received 104 XP.

Treasure division: 750 EP (107 each, 1 remainder)

  • Falafela: cloak (5 SP), 107 EP
  • Lightstep: cloak (5 SP), 107 EP (must tithe 10% to deity, so must tithe 11 EP)
  • Opalent: cloak (5 SP), 107 EP, also 3 prisms, crystals, chalk
  • Vandin Lakesplitter: 107 EP
  • Vox the Just: cloak (5 SP), 107 EP
  • Persis: 107 EP
  • Tureg: 107 EP

Total accumulated experience points: Lightstep 419; Vandin Lakesplitter 390; Falafela 380; Opalent 380; Persis 190; Tureg 190; Vox the Just 104.

— The Dungeon Master

Resting up at the Inn of Breathy Footsore

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Here is more of the continuing saga of some new Dungeons & Dragons adventurers.

Days #2-2 through #2-8 (Waterday, 2nd Thawmist through Earthday, 8th Thawmist, 4333 BCCC): The adventurers Falafela, Lightstep, Opalent, and Vandin Lakesplitter, after their harrowing adventure at Losnoth, rested at the inn of Breathy Footsore. The inn has a sign that just said “EAT” and was about 100 yards north of the citadel of Elwood the Blue. There was a 20-foot by 20-foot barn just to the north of the inn, and about 50 yards to the west of the inn were two small cabins. Breathy, a widower, lives at his small inn/tavern with his two daughters, Gertrude and Shannowy. Gertrude is 16, and a stocky brunette. She favors her father. Shannowy is slim, blonde, and 17 years old. Breathy also employs a cook, Petey One-eye, a fighter who lost his left eye in a battle about 10 years previous. Petey wears a pirate-style patch over his missing eye. Breathy himself is overweight and is going bald, but has a jolly disposition. He is always short of breath, and any sort of physical exertion would probably give him a heart attack. He did offer a discount to the party if they helped out by chopping firewood and fetching water from the well, and able-bodied members of the party took advantage of that discount.

When the party arose the day after getting back from Losnoth (on 2nd Thawmist), they met a human fighter, Vox the Just, during breakfast at the inn. Vox seemed keen on joining the party for a share of any treasure found.

After breakfast on 2nd Thawmist, Opalent, Falafela and Lightstep went to speak with Elwood at his citadel. Elwood’s citadel was constructed of cut limestone and was arranged in the shape of a 6-pointed star, a little more than 100 feet from one point to its diagonally opposite point. There were two wooden gates, one on the north side and another to the south. In the center of the citadel was the keep, a circular tower 30 feet in diameter and about 35 feet tall. The party were escorted into the tower, and up a circular stone staircase to the third level, noting that the ground floor of the tower contained quite an armory. The 2nd floor contained sleeping quarters for Elwood’s troops. All of Elwood’s guards wore medium-blue tunics emblazoned with a yellow, olde-English style “E” over their armor. Their shields were also decorated in the same manner.

Elwood knew the party had been at Losnoth, and asked what they had encountered there. He asked how many orcs they had encountered, in particular. After hearing the party’s story, and how they lost three of their party, he offered some troops to help dig graves for the fallen near the inn. Elwood then told the party why he was at this particular citadel. He related that his post was to guard against any hostile infiltrations, particularly orcs, from the north or east. This was to help protect the villages of Finsbury Fields and Popinjay to the west. He mentioned that he usually gets messages from Popinjay every few days, and a supply wagon makes a journey from Popinjay to Elwood’s citadel about once a week or so. Elwood said he has been asked to do more active patrolling, but he says he didn’t have nearly enough men to send out strong patrols and also protect the citadel. In particular, Elwood said he would like to send a strong force to clean out Losnoth once and for all, but he couldn’t afford to lose any men in attempting that task, so he dared not risk it.

Elwood also mentioned that he was looking for his long lost brother, Jacob the Blue. He asked if the party ever came across him to try to bring Jacob back to Elwood, or at least to try to send word or where they may have encountered Jacob. Elwood described Jacob as being about three inches shorter and 50 pounds heavier than himself, and having dark, wavy hair.

In the next several following days, while Vandin (in particular) and the others were regaining their strength, they spoke more with Breathy. Breathy mentioned how the party could stay at the two cabins instead of just sleeping in the cots in his dormitory-style room in the upstairs of his inn. The party did do just that. Of the two cabins, each was only about 10-feet by 12-feet in size. Each had a 4’ x 4’ table with 4 chairs, a small fireplace, and a few old iron cooking pots and utensils, but no beds. One of the cabins was sort of run down, but the other was in pretty good shape, although unoccupied. Breathy mentioned that the cabins were both occupied until a few weeks ago, but the occupants just up and left in the middle of the night. Breathy said he also used to keep some pigs in the pigpen behind one of the cabins, but the pigs all vanished on a different night. Breathy also related that business had really dropped off lately, and there weren’t many travelers coming by his place. He was thinking of just letting the inn go and moving back to Popinjay.

Toward the end of the party’s rest period, Elwood mentioned that his lookouts had noticed four humans (it appeared) heading east. Those travelers were about two miles north of Elwood’s citadel when they were spotted. Elwood thought the party would want to know about those others.

So, the party finished out the week in the two cabins, letting the two females, Falafela and Opalent, have the nicer of the two cabins, while Vandin, Lightstep, Narvet, Persis and Tureg stayed in the lesser cabin. Vox continued to bunk at the inn for now. Falafela also cut down the high, hard boots to better fit her halfling size.

–The Dungeon Master

A First Adventure

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

OK, so shortly after Christmas 2014, I got together with some friends, and I had them generate characters (only allowing the basic characters of fighter, cleric, magic-user, and thief for their 1st ever D&D characters). I was using 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules, and had prepared handouts for each player to help them with player creation. As a Dungeon Master (DM), I have players generate characters by rolling three 6-sided dice (3d6) six times, recording all six numbers (which are all between 3 and 18 inclusive), then they can apply the numbers to whichever characteristic they want to help create the type of character they want to play. If after rolling the six basic numbers they don’t seem strong enough for a character, I allow the player to re-roll all six numbers.

Finally, when the player is satisfied with the rolls and has distributed them into strength, intelligence, wisdom, dexterity, constitution, and charisma, I have them roll for their starting hit points. Then after that, they roll for their starting money according to their character class. After all that, I allow each character one “Mulligan” where they can re-roll any of the characteristics, or their starting hit points, or their starting money. If the Mulligan roll is higher than the roll it is replacing, the player uses the new number. If the Mulligan roll is equal to or lower than the original number, they keep the original number.

Sounds simple, right? Of course, the first time players generate characters, having never played D&D or any sort of other Fantasy Role-Playing Game (FRPG), they are not really sure what the numbers will be used for.

Next, players use their money to outfit their character with arms, armor, and accessories (such as wineskins, backpacks, etc.). Then after all of that, it’s off to a dungeon for adventure! So, here is how things went for their first adventure. I used a dungeon I created back around 1980 or so named “Losnoth.” Although that dungeon had been depleted by characters I DM’ed for way back around 1980, it was suddenly re-stocked for this new group of adventurers.

Day #2-1 (Airday, 1st Thawmist, 4333 BCCC): Note that this adventure begins on the 1st day of a new year, the year being 4333 BCCC, which stands for Balozkinar’s Corrected Commoners Calendar. The month is Thawmist, and the 1st day of the year is also the 1st day of the week, the day being Airday. Roughly translated to “real life,” the day would be the equivalent of the vernal equinox, i.e., the first day of spring, roughly on or about March 20. This is all taken from the Judges Guild Wilderlands D&D supplements.

Vandin Lakesplitter (male dwarf fighter, chainmail, small shield, hammer), Opalent (female elf magic-user, no armor, dagger), Lightstep (male halfling cleric, ringmail, small shield, hammer), and Falafela (female halfling thief, leather armor, dagger) had journeyed to the destroyed castle of Losnoth. The rubble of the former castle sat upon a hill that is about 60 feet high, with a steep slope up any side of about 30 degrees. Atop the rubble, after a short search the party found a staircase leading down to the underground area, but at the bottom of the stairs they found a 10-foot deep pit, with sharp spikes at the bottom of the pit and with two human-sized skeletons lying in the bottom of the pit. Since all members of the party had infravision, they were glad they had lighted a torch instead of relying on their infravision as they would have tumbled into the pit as it was the same temperature as the rest of its surroundings. The party quickly used their 10-foot pole and rope to rig a sort of bridge connecting the two existing spikes on either side of the pit that had been driven into seams in the rock wall at some time previous to the party’s arrival. The party was then able to cross the pit without incident or injury.

After crossing the pit, the party found themselves in an hourglass shaped banquet hall or dining room. The room was about 80 feet from left to right, and most of the room was about 50 feet across, except the party came into the middle of the room from one side where the “waist” of the room was only about 30 feet across. In the left lobe of the room were four formerly fine mahogany tables, each measuring about 6 feet wide by 12 feet long. There were also eight chairs of similar construction around each table. But all of the tables and chairs had much graffiti carved into them, so they wouldn’t have any salvage value. There were also racks around the walls in the left side of the room that contained various eating utensils, mostly earthen plates, bowls, and cups along with crudely fashioned metal knives, forks, and spoons of low value. All together, there were about 20 place settings on the racks. In the right side of the room were a pair of large padded sofas that were covered with a formerly rich, red fabric that was now deeply soiled and tattered. There were two low coffee-style tables in front of the sofas, but those tables were also deeply carved with graffiti.

Before proceeding any further, the party took one of the 12-foot long tables from the banquet hall and used it to bridge the pit at the bottom of the stairs in case they would have to make a hasty retreat. The party also retrieved their rope from the improvised bridge across the pit. The adventurers peeked down the right passageway that led out of the dining room, but instead exited through the passage that was straight across from where they had entered the room. They were in a hallway that went to the left and to the right; they decided to go left. After 30 feet or so, the hall curved gently to the left, like it was following the curved corner wall of the room they had just exited, and they came upon a wooden door at the end of the hall.

The party found the door opened easily, and once they all passed through the door they found they were in an irregularly shaped trophy room. The room was about 40 feet across, with the left side long wall being about 60 feet long, the right side long wall about 30 feet long, then it moved diagonally towards the other wall. There was a row of five support columns made of smooth granite in the left side of the room, and three similar support columns in the right side of the room. There were plaques of coats-of-arms on the columns. There were also 11 animal head trophies on the walls: two bulls; three leopards; two goats; three boars; and a unicorn head. In about the middle of the room, between the rows of columns, was a 10-foot square rug that was surrounded by a wooden frame. While the rest of the party were debating about whether or not the rug was in fact a trap (none of them were willing to test it), Falafela quickly took the unicorn horn from the unicorn head and stashed it in her backpack. She knew it was an excellent antidote to any sort of poison as long as it was in her possession.

The party then crossed the trophy room (while avoiding the rug) to its diagonal far corner, where there were diagonal hallways to the left and right. Before taking either hallway, they found a secret door in the middle of a long wall through the efforts of Opalent. They opened the secret door, with the dwarven fighter Vandin Lakesplitter entering first, and encountered six dwarven fighters of Firmil’s adventuring party (the others were Arwarr, Hucid, Narvet, Persis, and Tureg, and they were armed with four axes, some hammers and a mace, and a couple of swords and a light and a heavy crossbow, all armored with chainmail and shields) within, as those other dwarves had been resting in that room. Vandin and Firmil’s group quickly struck up a friendship and agreed to co-operate in the interest of killing orcs. They also agreed that any treasure they already owned was theirs (Firmil had already claimed a candlestick worth about 10 gold pieces from the room), but that they would split any future treasure amongst the now 10 adventurers equally.

Besides the adventuring dwarves, Vandin, Lightstep, Opalent, and Falafela found a fine bed, table, chair, and nightstand in the room, as well as a wooden wardrobe cabinet. There were some papers on the table, but they all had writing in a strange tongue that nobody could decipher. There were some clothing items in the wardrobe, and Falafela and Opalent each found a pair of high, hard boots that fit them, each pair of boots being worth about 2 gold pieces (GP). Falafela, being only 2’8” tall, would have to get the boots cut down in height before they would be truly useful. And although she was a halfling, she said she preferred to wear boots instead of going barefoot when adventuring in strange dungeons because boots would protect her feet.

The now enlarged party left the bedroom through a regular door in the opposite side of the room from the secret door. Firmil said none of his party had been aware of the secret door until the other party had entered and caught them by surprise. Outside the bedroom was a four-way intersection, with a long hall leading to the left, and apparent dead ends to the right and straight across. Just as the group went down the (40-foot) long hallway, the suddenly encountered 5 patrolling orcs who were coming up the passageway to that four-way intersection. While all 5 orcs were quickly killed in the fight (orc Hit Points (HP): 1, 3, 2, 1, 4), Vandin Lakesplitter was wounded severely; losing 5 of his 6 hit points. Cleric Lightstep had to cast two Cure Light Wounds spells to cure the damage to Vandin, using both of his known spells of that type. Falafela was able to up-arm herself by claiming one of the short swords from one of the dead orcs, as she had only been equipped with a dagger beforehand. The party also dragged the dead orcs into the bedroom rather than leave them lying in the hallway.

Now the party was feeling lucky, and they went back to the four-way intersection. After a quick examination of the hallway that was straight across from the entrance to the bedroom, another secret door was found. Vandin then opened that secret door and was quickly attacked by a giant rat! Vandin just as quickly dispatched the rat with a mighty swing from his hammer (giant rat 2 HP) without getting bitten. This room was apparently a storeroom, and had much junk piled in it, including rusty scrap iron, broken barrels, some old linen and assorted other junk. The party then searched through the debris in the room and found a locked iron-reinforced wooden chest that had been hidden by that old linen. After Falafela checked for any traps, she was unable to pick the lock, so Vandin bashed the chest open with his war hammer. They found a large number of electrum pieces (EP) and platinum pieces (PP) in the chest. They wrapped the coins into some of the old linens from that room, then took it back to the bedroom so they could use the table in there for counting and equal division of the coins. The haul amounted to 750 EP and 100 PP. Firmil detailed Persis and Tureg to keep watch in the corridor while the coins were being counted. Then, as a couple of the dwarves from Firmil’s party had taken some damage in the battle with the orcs, and seeing as how the only cleric (Lightstep) in the party had no more Cure Light Wounds spells, the party agreed to leave the dungeon and then return at a following date.

The party then left through the four-way intersection, through the hall in which they had fought the orcs, then turned left, proceeded a short way, then turned right just about where the secret door to the bedroom was, and re-entered the trophy room. Instead of leaving the way they had entered the trophy room, they found another door that opened directly into the dining room. But just when they entered the dining room and were working their way past the three remaining dining tables, a party of 7 orcs entered that room from the opposite entrance to that room. A pitched battle ensued in the middle of the room. Opalent quickly launched her only spell, Magic Missile, which inflicted 4 HP on an orc, although not killing it. While all 7 orcs were eventually slain in the battle, dwarves Arwarr, Firmil, and Hucid were also killed, testifying to the fierceness of the short battle. During the melee, Vandin was gravely wounded and fell unconscious, and Opalent dragged Vandin out of the fray amidst swinging weapons to administer first aid by binding Vandin’s wounds. The thief, Falafela, was able to sneak around the orcs and got in a good backstab on one orc, inflicting 4 HP of damage. Falafela attempted to perform a couple more backstabs, but other dwarves or the cleric Lightstep killed the other orcs before Falafela could strike again.

The party was originally going to take the leather armor and short swords of the orcs they killed in the hallway previously so they could try to sell them in town, but now since they only had six relatively healthy adventurers and three dead dwarves and one unconscious dwarf to take back to civilization with them, they had to leave all of the orcs’ swords and leather armor behind (except, of course, for Falafela’s trophy sword). The surviving dwarves of Firmil’s party also had to leave their extra weapons behind in the interest of saving weight carried, and they also left behind the armor and shields of the deceased dwarves. Now the party used haste to leave before more orcs might appear, as the group was in no shape for another battle. The party was able to cross the table-bridge across the pit at the foot of the stairs, then climbed the stairs and exited the dungeon. They then made the long 10-mile trek back to Elwood the Blue’s castle without further incident, although it was a long march what with carrying the three dead and one unconscious dwarf.

Experience points (XP): Monsters killed: 12 orcs (10 XP each, plus 1 XP per HP) = 12 * 10 + 47 HP = 167 XP; 1 giant rat (7 XP, plus 1 XP per HP) = 7 + 2 HP = 9 XP. Treasure: Unicorn horn worth 500 GP; gold candlestick worth 10 GP; short sword and scabbard worth 8 GP; two pairs of high, hard boots, each pair worth 2 GP (4 GP total) plus 750 EP (375 GP equivalent) and 100 PP (500 GP equivalent).

Total experience points: 167 + 9 + 500 + 10 + 8 + 4 + 375 + 500 = 1573 XP total. This needs to be divided by four regular characters (each gets a full share) and three non-player characters (each gets a half-share). This makes 11 half-shares to be divided, so 1573 / 11 = 143 XP per half-share (Narvet, Persis, and Tureg), or 286 XP per full share (Falafela, Opalent, Vandin Lakesplitter). The cleric Lightfoot gets a 10% XP bonus, so he earned 315 XP.

Treasure division: 750 EP (107 each, 1 remainder), 100 PP (14 each, 2 remainder)

  • Falafela: unicorn horn (500 GP), boots (2 GP), 107 EP, 14 PP
  • Lightstep: 107 EP, 14 PP (must tithe 10% to deity, so must tithe 12.5 GP equivalent, or 25 EP),
  • Opalent: boots (2 GP), 107 EP, 14 PP
  • Vandin Lakesplitter: 107 EP, 14 PP
  • Narvet: candlestick (10 GP), 95 EP, 14 PP
  • Persis: 113 EP, 14 PP
  • Tureg: 113 EP, 14 PP

— The Dungeon Master

D&D, Then & Now

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

OK, so I used to DM for AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) between 1979 and 1982. Back then drew my dungeon maps by hand on graph paper. Sometimes I would photocopy a map from a different (usually commercial) source, then use Wite-Out to obliterate some part of the map, then I could draw in changes. I used some commercial dungeon adventure modules such as “In Search of the Unknown” and “The Village of Hommlet” but quickly found that the players were also purchasing and reading those modules, just so they would know what they would encounter and find in a particular dungeon. So, I then started changing things around. I would photocopy the pages of the module (for my own use!), and then write in changes, sometimes using Wite-Out to overwrite sections. Then I started making my own modules, writing out area descriptions by hand on a yellow legal pad, although eventually I started using a typewriter. (I didn’t purchase my first home computer until after I quit playing D&D.) After making changes to modules, it was always cool to describe what was in a room, only to have a player say, “That’s not what’s supposed to be in that room!” And then, of course, I could answer, “Aha! So you’ve been trying to cheat!”

So, now, when I picked up DMing again in 2015, I find using a computer makes everything a lot easier. I can take my hand-drawn maps and scan them and then edit them (or just plain clean them up) in Photoshop. I use Word to write descriptions, and use Excel to create various other play aids. I even use FileMaker Pro to keep databases of various things. It’s also easy to find other adventure modules online, then modify them so the players can’t search online for what adventure module we may be using! I change every place name or character name from other folks’ modules I use. I hope the authors of those other modules will forgive me. Believe me, the only reason I change everything is so the players can’t cheat and search on their smartphone while we are playing (I did catch one player doing that). Not to mention you can use your color printer to print floor tiles, paper figures found online, etc.

I also encourage players to keep their own notebooks, to record names of NPCs (non-player characters) they encounter, or places they visit, or artifacts found, etc. However, some players now keep notes on their smartphone instead of using paper and pencil. But of course, while they may only be keeping notes, I figure they’re also furiously searching online for what module we may be using!

So, in other words, using computers makes it easier to be a Dungeon Master, although it can also make it easier for players to “cheat”!

— The Dungeon Master