Archive for January, 2016

How I got into playing D&D (in the 1970s)

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

I guess I’ve always been a board-gamer. I played various “kid” style board games when I was truly a kid, then in the early 1960s (when I was 10 years old) a friend of mine bought the board game “D-Day” from the Avalon Hill company. Wow. What a difference from other games. Most games (even the early cheesy Milton Bradley “war” games) had one side move one piece, then the other side moved a piece, etc, but with the D-Day game one side moved as many of their pieces as they wanted, then did all of their attacks, then the other side took a similar turn.

My friends and I then bought just about every Avalon Hill game there was. We wore out a couple copies of Blitzkrieg by playing it so much. Starting around 1970 or ’71, we went to local board game conventions (gamecons) and played all sorts of games. Then in the mid-1970s, I became aware (at the gamecons) that some folks were playing a new kind of game, a role-playing game named Dungeons & Dragons.

Original Dungeons & Dragons box cover.

Original Dungeons & Dragons box cover.

While at one of the local gamecons, I bought the original D&D rules booklets (1974 printing). There were three small booklets in the original set: Men & Magic; Monsters & Treasure; and The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures; plus a set of Reference Sheets. I also later bought the add-on booklets Greyhawk and Blackmoor (May & November 1978 printings, respectively). The booklets said “Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures.” There were two problems, though, as none of my game-playing friends wanted to play D&D, not to mention the rules were sort of weird to try to figure out on your own.

I did get an introduction to playing D&D at the local gamecons, but I didn’t spend much time at all playing D&D at the cons as I was more into various board games at the time. So basically I just set aside the rule books for a few years.

Then, in August 1979, a teenager named James Dallas Egbert III mysteriously disappeared from the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. Some folks who are old enough will remember the story, but if you don’t know about it, click the link above for more information. It seems that young Mr. Egbert (who was enrolled at MSU at age 16) would sometimes play Dungeons & Dragons, and the game’s name suddenly entered popular culture as various news organizations were trying to make a link to Egbert’s disappearance while “live playing” D&D in steam tunnels beneath the MSU campus. While Mr. Egbert’s life turned out to be a tragedy in that he commited suicide in August 1980, it did put D&D into the public eye.

Suddenly, in late 1979, all of my friends who had not formerly been interested in playing D&D started asking me about the game. “You have that game, right? How about showing us how the game plays?” I told them that nobody gets to watch others play the game, but they must play the game themselves if they wanted to find out anything about it. By that time I also owned the D&D “Basic Set” of rules that were a lot easier to decipher than the original rules booklets. It also came with module B1: In Search of the Unknown.

D&D Basic Set cover, 1977

Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set box cover from 1977.

I also had just purchased the first Advanced Dungeons & Dragons books, the Monster Manual, the Players Handbook, and the Dungeon Masters Guide (which had just come out), but as I hadn’t yet had time to read through all of those AD&D books, I decided to run a dungeon for my friends using the Basic Set rules (with the “blue” rulebook).

Unfortunately, the date is lost to history, but sometime in late 1979 (I would guess it was September, shortly after James Egbert had disappeared) I got together on a Friday evening after work with several friends, and we played D&D. Naturally, I was the Dungeon Master (DM) as I was the only one who knew anything about the game. We spent a little time generating their first characters, then down they went into the dungeon!

On that first Friday evening of playing D&D, we got started around 8 pm and finished around midnight. I figured that would be the end of things, as now my friends had finally experienced D&D, and I had blooded myself as a first-time DM. But instead, at midnight, the players were raving and excited! “When can we play again!?” they all clamored. I answered, “How about next weekend?” They all shouted, “Can’t we play any sooner? Like tomorrow?” The following day was a Saturday, so I said, “OK, we can get together again in the evening.” But they wanted to play sooner, like 10 am! We finally bargained on a starting time of noon on Saturday.

So we got together again at noon on Saturday, and played until midnight. By now, it seems the initial adventurers were totally hooked on the game. At midnight on Saturday, once again they all pleaded to play again the following day, on Sunday. So we played again on Sunday, from around noon to 6 pm. After that I said we should only play once a weekend.

After that, we did play D&D often, averaging one session per week for about two years. I also found time to start some other groups of players in some other dungeons as I had added to my store-bought modules with such as The Village of Hommlet. I also quickly started making my own modules as I found the players were also buying the few available ready-made dungeon modules so they would know what to expect.

Eventually, though, I started going to college in January 1982, and with all of the homework I had (I was also working 40 hours a week) I found I didn’t have time to adequately prepare adventures for the players. I then stepped down as our group’s DM, and let one of the other experienced players take over as DM. Unfortunately, the campaign just wasn’t the same, and we all drifted away from playing.

And for more than 30 years, I never went back to playing D&D until just after Christmas 2014.

— The Dungeon Master

The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot: Part 1

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

DM note: This is a longer post than usual, as it gets back into what Dungeons & Dragons players and characters live for, a “Dungeon Crawl” where the characters go down into an underground labyrinth in search of treasure.


Day #2-29 (Fireday, 9th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): The party awoke the next morning in Karnack’s castle and found the weather had cleared with bright blue skies and with only a few scattered clouds; however, after their heavy drinking of the previous evening, Vandin had a minor hangover and Douag was nursing a major hangover. Fortunately for him, Vox had no after-effects of his drinking. By around 8:00 am, they were all at breakfast, eating hotcakes with syrup, and sausage links. Falafela mentioned how she really enjoyed the hot breakfasts, as she was getting really tired of eating hardtack along the trail. Around 9:00 am they were all summoned to see Karnack in his tower. When all of the party (including Douag) were assembled, Karnack addressed them. “The past day and a half, my scribes and I have been very busy indeed. We have scoured through all of my books and tomes, and I believe we have found something that may aid you in your quest.”

Karnack continued, “Decades, if not a century or more ago, the cleric Koban Hairfoot was a great and powerful healer in the region. He grew up from humble beginnings to become an ardent warrior of his holy faith. Koban survived many adventures with several groups of adventurers and his fame and fortune grew, as did his skill in the clerical arts. Koban specialized in the creation of healing mixtures and made a habit of curing plague victims, as his own parents succumbed to disease when he was very young. Many villagers owed their lives to Koban’s tireless pursuit to finding healing methods to diseases that afflicted the land. Koban’s quest to cure disease finally led him to his demise in a remote part of the Anshar Forest. There, among his comrades, Koban fell at an old dungeon complex. Out of respect the local gentry helped build his crypt to honor his memory. In the years that have passed, most folks of the region have forgotten the location of the crypt.”

“It is known that Koban found the Necklace of Harbinge, indeed, he was reportedly buried with it. That necklace is a gold, crescent shaped device with opals and turquoises, on a gold chain. It can be used with a gold chalice of high value to create a potion that can cure many diseases. But, Koban was looking for another, even more powerful artifact, the Pendant of Winstone. The pendant is gold, mostly round with a sort of handle on one side, and a large jet-black jewel in its center. Reputedly, the pendant must also be used with a gold chalice of high value.”

“Bring ye back those artifacts, and we may be able to devise a cure for the villagers of Crystal Shores!”

“I will send 5 of my cavalry with you as an escort. Two of them will carry crossbows. They will escort you as far as the entrance to the forest. I will also send my ranger, Clayton, to guide you through the forest to the tomb.” Karnack motioned to a tall woodsy looking fellow wearing brown with a deep green cloak who was standing behind him. “He has visited the site of Koban’s crypt in the past, although not for a few years. And, to save you all walking, I will send two wagons with teamsters to drive them. They will take you to the entrance to the forest, but cannot go farther because the trail into the woods is only wide enough for foot travel. They will also take a few woodcutters with them and will return to the castle with loads of wood. They will return to the same location the following morning, along with the cavalry, and can provide transportation back to the castle.”

Before the party left Karnack’s presence, Opalent presented him with a gold ring (with one of the small opals from Bella Dora) that Opalent made in the craft shop. Karnack thanked her for the gift.

It was finally around 10:00 am when the party had checked their gear and were all set to go. Between then, they had 25 person-days worth of rations (mostly hardtack and jerky, with a bit of dried fruit) and a whopping 31 torches. They loaded into the wagons and were on their way. The teamsters drove their teams west along the cart trail that followed the south shore of Bridgefield Creek. Around three miles from the castle, the cart path crossed over to the north (left) bank across a small wooden bridge. It should be noted that the creek averaged about three feet deep, with a few shallower places and a few places where the depth reached as much as 6 to 10 feet. The creek flowed towards the east, towards the village of Bridgefields. The party tried to glean any information they could from the teamsters and woodcutters, but they didn’t know much about the interior of the Anshar Forest. They said they only went as far into the forest as they needed in order to haul out enough timber to load their wagons. The cavalry escort, for the most part, were too far away to speak with, as they were scouting ahead and on the flanks of the wagons.

After about a 45-minute wagon ride, during which Vandin had napped almost the entire way and Douag was moaning with his hangover every time his wagon hit a bump (the wagons were basically buckboards with sides, but without any sort of springs). When the party dismounted at the entrance to the forest, the guards repeated that they would be back with the wagons the following morning. Then Clayton spoke to the group. “We will start out walking on a good trail. It will wind around a bit, and after a few miles it will reach the shore of the Bridgefield Creek. We will then follow the north bank of that stream to the west for another three miles or so. That second three miles will be much harder hiking as there isn’t any permanent trail to follow. Make sure you keep close together, and make a minimum of noise. We will take a lunch break when we reach the creek.”

By 11:00 am the party entered the forest. The trail started mostly south, but once made a sharp turn to the right to loop around an obstruction and seemed to be heading back north for a quarter-mile or so, then made another left turn to head back to the southwest. Falafela was especially keeping track of the windings of the trail, and periodically looked back to see what the trail looked like heading the other direction. When the party had penetrated about a mile into the woods, a large pack of birds (they looked like finches) took noisy flight. Clayton wasn’t sure if the party had spooked them, or if something else was the cause. He halted the party, motioned for silence, and directed them to rest to the side, just off the trail. He then went and scouted ahead, alone. After about 5 minutes he came back and said, “I believe it was us who startled the birds. The only thing I worry about is that it of course could have alerted others to our presence.”

After about two miles into the forest, where the trail turned from mostly southwest to mostly south, the party could hear what sounded like a horn trumpeting far to the south of them. Could it have been a bugle? An animal sound? Clayton mentioned that sometimes the deep woods played tricks with sound, and not to worry about the sound. This part of the woods was very dense, and it was difficult to see the sky at all. Also, it was rather dark as no sunlight could penetrate through the canopy of leaves above. Although it was still mid-spring, the southerly clime meant the trees filled out with leaves early, and there were a number of evergreen coniferous trees about. If one left the trail, there was a surprising amount of undergrowth, in spite of the low light conditions. Although it had rained steadily two days ago, the ground was barely damp.

Finally, after three miles and about one and a half hours of walking, the party reached the creek. Clayton encouraged everyone to remove their backpacks, rest, and drink as much water as they could, then to refill their water skins. He also mentioned that they would be near the stream all the rest of the way to the tomb, so water should not be a problem. The party also ate, and rested for a full 30 minutes. Then, they hoisted their backpacks once again, and proceeded on their way. At the rest stop, Falafela made sure to mark the trail they would need to use to return the way they had come. It was also noted that the trail crossed the creek at their resting place, and the creek was quite fordable at that place as it was only one foot deep. The water was clear and cold, and quite refreshing to drink.

It took another three hours to cover the three miles or so to the edge of the clearing where the tomb of Koban Hairfoot was located. It was now mid-afternoon, probably around 4:00 pm. The clearing was about 300 yards in diameter, with the creek along the south part of the clearing. The crypt itself was north of the creek, and just about in the center of the clearing. There were a couple of low, gentle rolling hills in the clearing, and on the far side of the clearing was a granite cliff about 50 feet high, with the creek tumbling down the cliff in a waterfall, then into a wider area to make a pond about 50 yards south of the crypt.

Clayton cautioned everyone to silence, and to stay out of sight of the clearing. He said, “This is strange, there is a herd of goats here, maybe 50 or a hundred of them. They were not here when I reconnoitered this area a few years ago. You all stay back in the woods while I do some scouting. Clayton was about to walk to the north through the woods, but Falafela joined him. The duo worked their way to the north of the crypt while staying under cover of the woods, noting that the wind was out of the south so that they were downwind of anybody or anything in the clearing, and that being downwind they shouldn’t spook the goats. That’s when they saw the cyclops! He was fully 20 feet tall, carrying a massive club that looked like a small tree trunk (it was probably 8 feet long). The only garment the cyclops was wearing was a fur loincloth. The duo waited a few minutes, didn’t see any other creatures other than the cyclops and his goats, then silently made their way back to the others of the party.

“Well, we have a quandary on our hands!” related Clayton. There is a 20-foot tall cyclops in the field on the other side of the crypt!” That sparked a bit of a discussion, so much so that Clayton wanted everyone to move farther back into the forest so they wouldn’t attract any unwanted attention from the cyclops. Gwenette stayed at the forest’s edge and kept an eye on the clearing in case anything came their way. The party discussed various methods to deal with the cyclops, including using Clayton’s and Vox’s bows to shoot it with arrows, at which time Vox mentioned that he had never even shot his bow at anything! Clayton remarked that he wished he would have had time to take Vox target shooting and then hunting. Clayton also reminded the party that a cyclops could usually throw a 40-pound rock quite a ways, perhaps as far as 50 yards! One good thing, Clayton noted, was that such creatures usually lived solitary lives so there probably wouldn’t be any other creatures to have to deal with. Vandin took the opportunity of the discussion to take another nap. By now, the long hike and the element of nearby danger had cleared Douag’s head and he took an active part in the discussion.

One of the options discussed were to go and try to steal a couple of goats to get the cyclops to chase, but that idea was shot down with a reminder of the cyclops’ rock-throwing prowess. Finally, it was thought a diversionary fire might draw the cyclops off in the opposite direction, but who would set the fire(s)? Flenda and Jorgio then volunteered for that hazardous duty. Everyone else figured that maybe Flenda and Jorgio would want to do that so they could be alone, as everyone had noticed how the two had been spending as much time as possible in the near company of the other. Flenda had even insisted on walking closest to Jorgio during the hike into the woods.

Between the two of them, Flenda and Jorgio possessed eight torches and enough food for a day or so. Flenda also mentioned they could probably catch a squirrel or a rabbit (or even a goat, chimed in Jorgio) to supplement their rations. They did not own a tinderbox, though, and to avoid them having to search for some flint (of which there was good chance to find some atop the granite cliff, although there was a chance of being spotted by the cyclops before they got a fire going), Vox loaned them his tinderbox. So off they went, as it was now around 4:30 pm, meaning there was less than two hours of daylight left. Clayton reminded everyone that it would be a moonless night, with only starlight to provide natural illumination. And while the dwarves, elves, and halflings all had infravision, it was of limited range meaning a cyclops could be almost upon them before they would sense his heat signature in the dark! At this point all of the party members made sure their water skins were full from the creek.

It took Flenda and Jorgio about 45 minutes to work their way around the south edge of the clearing. They first had to cross the stream, and then they went a hundred or so yards into the woods to make less of a chance of their scent being carried to the goats. They eventually made their way to the top of the cliff to the west of the clearing and saw that the cyclops was seated on a rock, watching his flock, looking quite contented. They then spent about 15 minutes gathering as much brush as they could, and getting it close to the edge of the cliff. Then, about an hour  before sunset, they started a small fire back from the cliff with their torch, and then carried that fire on two sticks to the brush they had gathered. Within a few minutes, the bright yellow flames of the brush were standing out against the dark background of the forest on top of the cliff. At first, the cyclops just gazed with his mono-vision at the flames, but when the human duo of Flenda and Jorgio began to jump up and down, yelling and swinging their arms to attract attention, the monster stood up, and then began to walk in the direction of the cliff.

Flenda and Jorgio knew the cyclops probably wouldn’t directly climb the cliff, but would go to either side of the cliff to gain altitude. When he went to the north side of the cliff, the human pair swiftly ran to the south, going deeper into the woods. Flenda  told Jorgio, “That cyclops will have to crawl to move quickly through the woods, otherwise his head will be up in the branches!” But Jorgio answered, “But what if the cyclops just breaks off the treetops and throws them at us…?”

When the rest of the party noticed the cyclops heading toward the cliff, they moved fast. They quickly crossed the 150 yards of open ground to the crypt, trying at all times to keep the crypt between them and the cyclops so that if the cyclops would turn around, he wouldn’t see them. The crypt itself was made of rough-hewn gray granite blocks, fitted together. The building was about 110 feet wide across its entrance, and a bit longer than that in its depth. At its tallest point, a granite domed roof, it was 25 feet high. At its front, facing the pond in the creek to the south, were several wide granite steps leading up to its entrance. The entrance had two black wooden doors, reinforced with iron bands, each door measuring 8 feet tall and four feet wide, making an 8 foot by 8 foot aperture. The doors had evidently been barred and locked from the outside, but they had been forced open from the outside previous to the adventurers’ arrival. The party was slightly out of breath when they reached the crypt, and then one by one they turned the corner of the building and crept into the dim entrance, watching to ensure the cyclops did not see them.

Once they were all within, Gwenette stood watch in the shadow inside the doors, watching to see if the cyclops was headed back their way. Inside the tomb, they noticed a strong body odor, most likely from the cyclops’ bedding. In the southeast corner inside the crypt was much debris, mostly old rags and some dirt and branches. There were also a number of animal (and possibly humanoid?) bones littering the interior, and some animal flesh, apparently the remains of a recent dinner. “At least the cyclops didn’t ‘do his business’ inside the place where he slept!” said one of the party, possibly Tureg. Besides the debris, the floor was made of white marble with gold veins in it. There were four rough granite pillars holding up the ceiling, and in the northwest and northeast corners of the interior were two circular staircases that went up about 15 feet to an observation deck across the back of the interior. But the main feature of the interior, in the middle of the floor, was a carved marble crypt that resembled a sleeping person on a padded bed, and the bed was suspended on the wings of eagles on all four sides. Around that feature was a red pentagram inlaid into the floor. And, at either side of the pseudo-coffin were two white marble angels, one on each side of the coffin. The angels faced the entrance door, and were in a battle-ready crouch, each holding a marble sword in its hand.

Although it was a little dark inside the building, there was enough of the setting sun to the southwest to illuminate the inside enough for the party to see these features. Quickly the party examined every part of the inside. The marble coffin seemed to be of a single piece of marble, and nobody was able to open it in any manner. Lightstep sensed an aura of some sort emanating from the coffin. Finally, Opalent noticed that one of the angels could be rotated. Then Lightstep verified that the other angel’s arm could move. Opalent turned the angel to the right of the crypt to have it face the marble coffin, then raised its arm. Lightstep then raised the arm of the angel to the left, then rotated it to face the coffin. After that, a loud “click” was heard, like that of a latch being released. Vandin and others were then able to raise the lid.

Some of the characters, particularly Vandin, were ready to grab for the Pendant of Winstone and be on their way, but lo! There was no body inside. Instead, what was presented to the party was a solid white mass of cobwebs! Vandin borrowed Opalent’s 10-foot pole and whisked away the cobwebs as quickly as he could. Then they all saw stairs leading down into a black void. Lightstep and Opalent lit torches, and then Vandin and Lightstep led the way, single file, down the stairs. While this was going on, the ranger Clayton was reminding others that Koban had found a dungeon below ground at this feature, and he was believed to have been buried in the lower reaches of that dungeon. Finally, when all the others had made it down, Gwenette brought up the rear.

The party speculated about what the cyclops would do when he returned and saw the lid to the marble coffin open. They also saw a large lever protruding from the floor at the bottom of the stairs. They quickly surmised that the lever would close the lid, but not wanting to chance possibly locking themselves in, possibly for all of eternity, Opalent used her dagger to wedge the lid so it would not close all of the way while Vandin and Douag worked the lever to close the lid. The party then proceeded down the hallway from the stairs. Inside the hallway, the walls were also of rough-hewn granite, about 10 feet wide with a 10-foot tall ceiling. At random places on the walls were iron sconces, sans torches. The iron of the sconces had surface rust, but were not rusted too badly seeing as they had been installed at least 100 years before. There was not much evidence of moisture.

The party only went about 40 feet when the corridor turned 90 degrees to the left, then back to the right. Although, if they were to have gone straight after the left, they could see 20 feet in front of them what looked like a solid wall of cobwebs. Lightstep used his torch to burn away the webs, and inside they found a circular chamber of 30 feet diameter. They noted that the dust on the floor had not been disturbed, and around the walls, frescoes had been painted many years ago, portraying ordinary life around the area, probably from 100 years or so ago. Some of the areas of the frescoes had peeled off. Douag and Opalent checked for stonework traps and for secret doors, respectively, but detected nothing. The party then went back to the hallway and took the other passage that was formerly to their right, although now it was to their left.

After heading in their new direction for 20 (human-sized) paces or so, the hallway once again branched. Ninety-degrees to the left was another hallway, while if they went straight ahead they could see a right corridor about at the extremity of the light from their torch. They decided to take the left passageway. About 25 paces down that passage was an anomaly in the floor. Right in the middle of the hallway, one of the paving blocks was raised about 3 inches above the normal floor height. Nobody wanted to walk on that stone, lest it prove to be a trap. The party members checked for stonework traps; none were detected. But not wanting to tempt the fates, all party members stepped around the raised block.

About 50 feet past the raised block, there was a side corridor to the right. That side corridor went about 30 feet, turned right, and then had a wooden door another 10 feet down the hall. The other corridor, in the direction the party had been heading, turned left, then back to the right after 20 feet, then went straight as far as they could see with their torchlight. So, the party decided to investigate the right hallway.

When the party came to the door, Vandin tested it, found it unlocked, and pushed it open. It opened surprisingly easy, in spite of no hinge lubrication for decades. Inside was a room about 40 feet long and 30 feet wide. Along the far wall were wooden racks full of wooden weapons, apparently once used for training purposes. Along the long wall to the right, many bones were fastened upon the wall, and in the center of the wall was a large skeleton, apparently of an ogre. The ogre skeleton was fastened to the wall intact, and there appeared to be writing on the wall around the skeleton. Although none could read the words that were written, they did point to various parts of the ogre’s bones, like they were part of training regimen, instructing trainees as to the best places to strike an ogre. Opalent moved in for a closer look at the writing, but as she quickly approached the skeleton, its skull suddenly dropped from its upright position so that its jaw rested on its sternum! This caused a moment’s consternation until Opalent figured it must have just been the air she moved that had caused the movement of the skull. The party did a thorough look-around of the “training room,” then departed.

After leaving the training room, the party resumed their original direction of travel, away from the raised stone in the hallway floor. The party’s marching order at this time was Vandin & Vox in the front, followed by Gwenette and Lightstep, then Falafela and Opalent, then Clayton and Tureg, and Douag was the rear-guard. Lightstep and Opalent were carrying lit torches. After several left-right 90-degree bends in the corridor, they came to a dead end at a wooden door. With a little bit of effort, Vox was able to push the door open. Inside the door was a room about 30 feet long and 20 feet wide, and it looked to have once been an armory. There were overturned empty weapon racks, with some old, rusted, broken weapons strewn about (such as broken sword blades and broken spear shafts), and a large wooden chest against the wall in the back of the room. As the party moved into the room, they noticed two full skeletons on the floor, mixed in with the debris. Vandin wasn’t taking any chances with the skeletons — he immediately set upon the skeletons and crushed their skulls with his hammer. Lightstep then prayed for the souls of the departed, whomever those skeletons may have been in their previous lives.

Falafela then went to the large wooden chest and checked it for traps, but didn’t find any. Not taking any chances, though, Vox then borrowed Opalent’s 10-foot pole and used it to open the lid of the unlocked chest. A quick observation showed the interior of the chest was empty. Vox and Lightstep then made a closer examination of the chest, and determined it had no false bottom or other secret storage areas. Vandin then kicked the chest in disgust. Opalent then examined the floor under the skeletons and the right side wall for secret passages, but found none. By this time the party’s two lit torches were about half-burned, meaning they had been in the dungeon about 30 minutes.

The party then retraced their steps, using the same marching order as above, until they once again came to the raised stone in the floor. Vox really, really wanted to step on that raised block to see what would happen, but several party members vociferously talked him out of that action. Vandin did a close examination for any stonework traps, and being satisfied that there were no traps, the party pushed on, once again carefully avoiding stepping on that raised stone.

About 10 (human-sized) paces past the raised block, the party re-entered the passageway to the surface. But instead of heading right towards the surface, they instead took the left passage, towards the unknown. About 30 feet or so, the hallway branched to the right, and they took that passage. After another 50 feet, the hallway split to the left and to the right. After 10 feet in either direction, there were closed wooden doors. Falafela was brought forward to check the door on the left, but didn’t find any traps. Vandin tried to open the door, but it was stuck, so he applied his hammer to it, and the door popped open. Someone towards the rear of the party commented, “If there is anyone or anything else around, they now definitely know we’re here!” Inside the room were several broken bunk beds, and some broken clay pots. The party did not spend much time in this room. The torches were about 2/3 burned by now, so the party had been in the dungeon about 40 minutes.

Falafela then returned to the hallway and went to the door on the right. She once again searched for any traps, and once again found none. Vox tried to open the door, but it was stuck. He put his shoulder to it, but still could not budge it. Vandin then brought forth his hammer and smashed the door open. (After all, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like it should be smashed with your hammer, n’est-pas?) Inside the room, the party saw more broken bunk beds on their sides, but also piles of loose bones. Some of the bones were wrapped in cloth, and the tattered cloth appeared to have been sliced by edged weapons. One of the piles of bones had an old rusted broken sword blade embedded in it. It did appear that a battle had taken place in this room, many years, perhaps even a century, ago. When the party looked closer at the bones, they found four humanoid skulls. Douag speculated that this room must have been a barracks or a guardroom, and it looked like the guards and been attacked and slain. There were also four intact, closed footlockers present.

The party then determined what was in the four footlockers. Vox checked the first one — it was empty. Falafela next checked one, and it was also empty. Opalent checked the third, although she was warned not to lest she trigger a trap, but it was merely an empty footlocker. Falafela then checked the last footlocker, and it, like the others, was devoid of contents. Lightstep said, “It looks like someone else has already cleaned out this place.” It should be noted that while in the room, Vandin did not feel compelled to smash any of the skulls.

So they all went back to the main passage, Vandin and Vox once again in the lead, and turned right to continue in their original direction. After 30 feet, the corridor turned 90 degrees to the left. After another 60 feet, the corridor branched to the right, and five feet into that branch was a closed wooden door. The party also noticed that if they would have gone straight, there appeared to be another passage diverging to the right not too far down the hall. But since the party was trying to be systematic about their explorations, they decided they must first see what there was to see behind this door. Of course Falafela did the obligatory search for traps, and when none were found, Vandin took his turn at trying the door. He was able to open it by degrees by putting his shoulder to it, but it squeaked and squawked ferociously all the while he was forcing it open.

Inside the door, the party proceeded about 30 feet when the hall widened into an octagonal chamber that was about 30 feet across from one parallel wall to its opposite wall. In the center of the room appeared the final resting place of Koban Hairfoot. Upon a marble table with the words “Koban Hairfoot” etched in its sides was a glass coffin, or at least a glass covering over the bones of Koban Hairfoot. Surprisingly, there was not too much dust on the top of the glass. Koban himself, or at least his skeleton, as all that was left of him was bones, was wearing a crown and a gold and jewel encrusted surcoat. Next to his body was his silver holy symbol, and a broken footman’s mace. It was at this time that the two torches were nearly burned to extinguishment, so the party lit two new torches (supplied by Vox and Gwenette). This marked about 60 minutes they had been below-ground.

When the new torches had been lit, the party noticed the murals in five of the angular walls of the chamber. From left to right, the murals depicted these scenes: 1) a young cleric watching what looked like cultists killing a family, perhaps the cleric’s family; 2) a cleric (presumably the same cleric) with an adventuring party; 3) that same cleric and his party posing with a slain green dragon; 4) the cleric healing peasants; and 5) that same cleric meeting his demise from electrical lightning bolts. Then four of the party, Vox, Clayton, Gwenette, and Opalent, lifted the glass covering off of Koban’s tomb and gently set it upon the floor. The party then examined Koban more closely, and inside his surcoat they found what looked like the Necklace of Harbinge, one of the artifacts that Karnack had mentioned had been buried with Koban. It was in the shape of a crescent moon, with a number of small opals and turquoises embedded in it, and was attached to a golden chain. Lightstep took the Necklace and placed it around his own neck for safekeeping. No other possessions of Koban were disturbed, and then Lightstep prayed most reverently over Koban for several minutes. When Lightstep had finished, he directed the party to replace the glass lid.

While all of the above was taking place, Tureg was watching their back-trail down the corridor. And Douag said he recognized the murals as being the story of Koban’s life. And since there was a door on the left side of Koban’s burial chamber (relative to the other door from which they had entered), Vox tried the door. As the hinges were on his side of the door, Vox pulled the door towards him. The door squeaked only a little, and opened with relatively little effort. Outside the door, which was set back about five feet from the main hallway, were passages going to the left and to the right, although the right passage turned to its left after a short distance. The party reckoned that the left passage led back to the hallway outside the other door to Koban’s chamber, so they proceeded to the right. At about this time Opalent made the observation that “Vox is learning to pray!” Lightstep answered with “Praying for wealth is not praying!” Vox then said, “I just want to find the Pendant and get out of this place!”

After the initial left turn of the hallway just after they left Koban’s chamber, the hall went straight for 90 or a hundred feet, then turned right. After another 30 feet, the hallway dead-ended, although there was a door on the right-side wall at the dead-end. Naturally, Falafela checked for hidden traps, and finding none moved back so Vandin could open the door. He had to put his shoulder into it, but with a moderate amount of squeaking the door opened. After a short passage inside the door was a sort of diamond shaped room, roughly 20 feet deep and 30 feet wide. It was quite apparently a library, as bookshelves lined all the walls inside the room, and the shelves were filled with old books. In the center of the room was a 4-foot square wooden table with two chairs. There were also some books and loose papers scattered about on the floor.

While Vox stood guard in the hallway outside the room, Opalent speculated that there might be a book here that could explain how to use the Necklace of Harbinge or the Pendant of Winstone! Lightstep cast a Detect Magic spell, but detected no magical auras. Opalent wanted to check the bookcases for secret passages that might lie behind them. And Vox leaned into the room and offered the suggestion to check the books and papers on the floor.

(to be continued)

— The Dungeon Master

DM note: What lies ahead for our intrepid party? Will they find the Pendant of Winstone? Will they all return to the surface alive? Check back in the future for more adventures!

Read The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot – Part 2

A Day of Rest at Karnack’s Castle

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Day #2-28 (Earthday, 8th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC) After a good night’s sleep at Karnack’s castle, the party awoke well refreshed. After a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and biscuits, they were free to wander around inside the castle or even to go outside. They were told there was good fishing in Bridgefield Creek about a quarter-mile north of the castle, in spite of the fact it was still drizzling after an all night rain. Nobody went fishing or hunting, though, everyone was too tired from their 60-mile trek to the castle. Falafela managed to make her way to the craft shop inside the southwest corner of the castle. There she befriended Makurrh, the main craftsman/tinker for the castle. Together they discussed things mechanical, including various types of locks. Falafela asked if there were any locks she could practice picking, and Makurrh provided a couple of locks from the workbenches. He also mentioned “It would be bad form for a guest to actually practice picking any locks on actual doors within the castle, though, methinks! One would certainly not want to get caught performing that mischief!” Falafela also put in a little practice time trying to climb the inner stone walls of the castle.

Opalent was also working in the craft room, making jewelry, asking other jewelers for any techniques they would share. She was also interested in purchasing any gems that may have had special qualities. “Alas,” was the answer from Bella Dora, “I believe our gems are just of the ordinary sort.” Bella also added that, “We don’t have a lot of gems here, just a few rubies and opals, and one small topaz. We do have a little silver and gold that can be fashioned into rings and bracelets, though.” Bella did show Opalent how to make a simple jeweled ring. Vandin hung out at the blacksmith’s, talking about forges and smithing. Vandin was particularly amused by a story from the smith about a party of adventurers who found a staff and then angered the wizard amongst them. Lightstep spent time praying, especially as he was worrying about the villagers of Crystal Shores and about the evil ring the party had found. Towards the evening, Vandin, Vox and Douag started to drink a little too much ale. After nightfall, the party all retired to their quarters for the night.

— The Dungeon Master

Journey to Karnack’s Castle: The Third Day

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

DM note: at last the party arrived at Karnack’s castle, although not without a bit of night-time excitement!


Day #2-27 (Waterday, 7th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC) By this time, around midnight, Lightstep was getting too tired to stay awake. He decided to wake Flenda to stand his watch. He also said he had been unable to sleep due to worrying about the evil ring they were carrying to Karnack’s castle. In the meantime, Falafela stayed on the hill to keep an eye on the other camp with the campfire. At this time, Vandin was snoring, although not loudly, and it sounded like he was saying “stones stones stones” during his exhalations. When Flenda and Tureg then took over the watch, they were informed about the horse snorting nearby. While Tureg stayed in his party’s camp, Flenda went to the top of the hill to observe the other camp. By this time, even the starlight had winked out as the sky had totally clouded over, and the wind picked up a little as it seemed a weather front was starting to pass through. After Flenda had attuned her eyes to the dark and had watched the campfire from a distance, she silently crawled on her belly like a reptile through the knee-high grass towards that other, mysterious, camp.

Around 3 am, Tureg woke the next watch pair of Gwenette and Jorgio. Tureg informed the duo that Flenda was on the hill watching another camp, and cautioned them to keep their voices low. Gwenette climbed the low hill, but although she moved back and forth on her side of the hillcrest, she could not locate her sister. Finally, Gwenette noticed, even in the almost total darkness, what looked like some bent grass leading towards the other camp. Gwenette also looked towards the campfire, and she thought she saw her sister sitting around that fire with several other people. So, Gwenette did what was reasonable for the daughter of barbarians to do — she too crawled towards the other camp. As Gwenette got close to the other camp, she could hear her sister’s voice, and could recognize the Karzulun language. So, when Gwenette had made it within about 20 feet of the camp without being detected (she was downwind of the horses), she finally stood up and said, “Flenda, you shouldn’t go sneaking off like that! You had us all worried!”

Then the four Karzuluns, led by Jen Jise, all stood up and welcomed Gwenette. They said, “Damn! Your father did a good job teaching you two to move silently. We never heard either of you coming!” So the girls sat and enjoyed the warmth of the fire, while telling their long-lost friends of their recent adventures. The girls mentioned how they had been captured by orcs, and got a ribbing about that from the Karzuluns. The girls mentioned how they had been careless to go berry and herb picking away from their village without taking any weapons. The tale continued with the story of their rescue by their friends on the other side of the hill. The raiders were finally impressed when Flenda displayed the two orc ears she had taken as a trophy from Losnoth! Finally, when it started getting lighter in the east (there would be no sunrise as it was totally overcast), the girls decided they should go back to their own camp, and they invited the Karzuluns to come along. So, the two girls and the four men and the men’s four horses all walked quite casually towards the girls’ camp.

By this time, the entire camp of adventurers was wide awake, and had lookouts posted on the hill, so they saw the others approaching them. They weren’t sure if they were about to be betrayed, so they had their weapons at the ready. But Flenda hailed the party, saying, “You’re not going to believe this, but we found some old friends of our parents! Our father used to ride with these rascals!” So then when the two parties met, introductions were given all around. Jen Jise mentioned (using the common language) that if this group was good enough to rescue Flenda and Gwenette from a nest of orcs, then they were worth keeping company with. After a quick bite of food (the Karzuluns had their own food in their saddlebags), the party departed towards Karnack’s castle to the north. The Karzuluns walked their horses alongside the others, asking questions about the particular quest the group was on. The Karzuluns mentioned they would only accompany the party to the castle, but they would not enter the castle as they (the Karzuluns) were usually not on good terms with other people. Although the main party had traveled many miles in the past two days, they quickened their step with the freshening northeast breeze bringing promise of a spring rain.

Finally, the group arrived at Karnack’s castle around 10 am, passing by fenced gardens and pastures with goats, sheep, and cattle. The Karzuluns then said their farewells, mounted their horses and rode back to the south. Approaching the castle from the south, the group could see a wall made of gray fitted stone that was about 80 yards wide and about 20 feet high, with crenellations atop the walls. There were also two towers, one on either side of the main gate, the towers being about 30 feet high. The main gate itself was made of two heavy wooden doors with iron reinforcement, each of which measured 10 feet tall and eight feet wide. The castle itself was also atop a hill that was about 20 feet taller than the surrounding countryside, and a somewhat steep switchback road led up to the gate. At the castle gate, a guard who was above the gate hailed the party. “Halt! Who goes there?” Lightstep and Opalent did most of the speaking, mentioning they had come to see Karnack, and that they had been sent by Herschel Gobinmyer of the village of Crystal Shores. The guard said, “Hold your places.” There was about a 10 minute delay as another guard took a message to Karnack. Finally, the gates opened, and the guard said, “Enter!”

Inside the castle courtyard, the group could see a stable to their right, and past the stable was a partially enclosed building with much firewood. To the left was a privy, and also a row of two-story wooden buildings nestled up against the inside castle wall on the side. To the far left was a keep with a large square tower on top, with the top of the tower at least 50 feet above the ground. To the far right was another inner wall, with a smaller tower that measured about 40 feet high at the far corner. Directly across the courtyard, about 75 yards away, was another wall, and quite noticeably, atop that wall was a large crossbow that could fire more than one bolt at once, and that crossbow was manned by guards and was aimed right at the party! There were also a number of small carts in various locations in the courtyard, and various civilians going about their tasks. The party, which numbered nine, also noticed that there were nine guards around them in the courtyard. The guards were all clad in scale mail, carrying large gray shields emblazoned with a black diagonal band. The guards were all also armed with sheathed long swords and wore small iron helmets.

A lieutenant of the guard spoke. “Karnack will see two of you at this time. Please follow me.” With that, the guard turned on his heel and Lightstep and Opalent followed him, followed by another guard. The lieutenant led into the base of the eastern tower, then inside the wall towards the east. Then the wall turned north. After more than 50 yards in this new direction, the group passed through a wall into a barracks, then ascended a circular stairway to Karnack’s tower. Karnack, a human of about 60 years, stood about 5’5” tall, weighed probably 150 pounds, sported a fu manchu moustache, and was bald except for a light-gray turban that was secured in its front with a red feather through a gold medallion. He also was wearing a long medium-gray robe with some brocaded decorations woven into it (sort of like a paisley pattern).

After introductions, Karnack bid Lightstep and Opalent be seated on two padded chairs that were of a dark wood with red velvet on the seats, and the two guards retreated to the stairway, where they remained at attention. Karnack then sat down behind his desk. Karnack spoke, “I understand you were sent here by Herschel Gobinmyer?” Lightstep answered, “Yes. He wrote out this letter to you.” With that, Lightstep removed the rolled scroll of gray parchment from his ivory scroll tube and handed it to Karnack. Karnack, after examining Herschel’s seal that had been impressed into the sealing wax, then broke the seal and began to read Karnack’s letter:


Spiritday, the 5th of Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC

The olde village of Crystal Shores

My Dearest Olde Friende Karnack,

A couple of weeks ago, the village of Crystal Shores was beset upon by a strange pestilence. A number of the villagers developed sore throats, then began to cough frequently, then some of them “turned” into a sort of mindless creature who then attacked other villagers, apparently in an attempt to bite those other villagers! Two of the villagers “turned” and had to be killed to prevent them harming others. Others then burned their bodies in an attempt to prevent the spread of the pestilence, although I had wanted to examine the bodies to see if I could detect any reason for the malady.

These strange happenings began about a month ago when a traveling cleric passed through our village, and then shortly thereafter, four more men, three fighters and one magician, passed through Crystal Shores, seemingly in pursuit of the cleric. We never saw any of those individuals again. At about the same time as those individuals passed through, two of our village’s young maidens, Flenda and Gwenette Deathmar (daughters of Vilan and Vilanious) disappeared. At the time, we sort of wondered what had happened, but nobody from the village wanted to go searching for the girls, believing that they would show up of their own accord, as, after all, they both are quite the free spirit.

In any event, about two weeks after they disappeared, the girls came back to the village, escorted by a party of adventurers who had rescued the girls from some orcs who held the girls captive at the old ruins of Losnoth, which is about 15 miles due south of Crystal Shores. The girls related their story of how they had gone off berry picking in the jungle to the southeast of the village and had been surprised and surrounded by the orcs, even though it was in the daytime. As it was, just as the orcs were about to sacrifice Flenda on an altar in the interior of the Losnoth ruins, the party of adventurers who stand before you now were in the vicinity and heard Flenda’s scream. The party then came to her aid, slaying the nine orcs at the interrupted sacrifice without loss to themselves (although one of the dwarves in their party was gravely wounded). Flenda then directed the party to where her sister Gwenette was held captive, and the party slew several more sleeping orcs. As a bonus, the party also freed two gentlemen, names of Fredo and Jorgio, although Fredo has recently been killed at Mont du Plat.

When the party returned the girls to the village, they related all of the above to me. While the sisters returned to their parents home, the other adventurers stayed the night at our local inn, only to find the innkeeper, his wife, and daughter had turned into “zombies” (for want of a better word) overnight. The party managed to capture the folks from the inn rather than killing them, then came to me straightaways to relate what had happened.

Now, I had been developing a theory that something had poisoned the local water supply from the lake and river, and that that something had started poisoning the water shortly after the cleric and his pursuers had passed through Crystal Shores. I state this because I have not developed any of the signs of the illness, but then again I do not drink the local lake water. I collect rainwater, and also make spiced pumpkin ale from my large pumpkin patch, and eat mostly vegetables from my own garden. There are several other villagers who do not as of yet show any signs of sickness either, and they seem to also drink more of other beverages than lake water. For example, we have a local goatherd where he and his family mostly drink goat’s milk and eat the meat from their goats they have slaughtered themselves–none of them are sick. However, several fishermen and others who are routinely near the lake have fallen to the sickness.

Now, although I only briefly spoke with the traveling cleric on his way through our village, he said he was on his way to the ruins at Mont du Plat as he had heard there was a valuable artifact somewhere in the ruins. He planned to retrieve that artifact and return it to his church so they could convert it into money or some such plan. However, it seems that the cleric’s pursuers somehow knew the cleric was going to Mont du Plat to find some valuable relic, so they no doubt had plans to relieve him of that valuable bauble.

So, back to the party who stand before you. They were entreated to travel to Mont du Plat to see what they could find. What they found were several more zombies in the dungeon of the old ruins there, and the party had to slay those zombies, although losing two of their party in the battles. I formerly mentioned Fredo; they also lost the dwarf Persis. The party believes that four of the zombies they killed were the pursuers, as three of those zombies were clad in armor, and the fourth was dressed as a mage. They also found the body of the dead cleric, and that cleric’s backpack and diary. The diary mentions how the cleric found the ring in the ruins; I have enclosed that diary for your perusal.

But the most disturbing thing the party found was that the cleric’s arm had been severed, apparently in a fight with his pursuers, and his arm had fallen down the underground well. The party then recovered the arm from the well, and, on the ring finger of the hand of the dead cleric, was the ring the adventurers will now present to you. I pray you DO NOT TOUCH THE RING! It does appear the ring has the power to convert ordinary persons into zombies, and it seems that while the ring was in the well, its evil was able to be transmitted through the water to our downstream village. It should also be noted that us villagers have noticed the fish were so lethargic that they could easily be caught by hand, and some of the forest animals, such as deer and even wolves, have been seen acting queerly where they would just wander somewhat aimlessly. That ring does radiate a powerful aura of evil, so beware!

I have consulted my books of lore, but could find no reference to such a ring. I pray you can find information about the ring, and of even more importance, I am dearly hoping you can discern a method with which I can restore the sick villagers back to their former health. Please help us! If you can, we will be eternally in your debt.

As always, your most obedient servant,

Herschel Gobinmyer


Karnack mostly read it aloud, relating the party’s story of how they rescued some human captives from orcs at Losnoth, then after returning two young maidens to their village of Crystal Shores discovered that villagers were getting sick from some mysterious malady. The village druid, Herschel, had been unable to determine the cause or to devise a cure. Then the party visited Mont du Plat and found the evil ring that had apparently been polluting the water that flowed downstream to Crystal Shores. Karnack read, “… the ring the adventurers will now present to you. I pray you DO NOT TOUCH THE RING! Hmmm,” Karnack continued, “let me see the ring.” With that, Lightstep very carefully opened the bone scroll tube, and gently dropped the ring in its wrapping onto Karnack’s desk. Karnack then used a couple of wooden picks, much like chopsticks, to open the wrapping. He beheld the ring with its numerous small skulls for the first time, and let out a low whistle. He then finished reading aloud the letter from Herschel.

Charnalite ring

The ring that was found at Mont du Plat.

“It does appear we have a quandary,” said Karnack. “I have learned of such mischievous magics in the past, but do not directly recall such a ring. I must consult my tomes to see if I can discern any information about it. In the mean time, you and your companions are all my guests.” Karnack then spoke to the guards at the stairway. “Lieutenant, return these two guests to their companions, and make sure they are all well fed. Arrange baths for them, if they wish. Also provide them lodging in the west wall.” Just before Lightstep and Opalent left (leaving the ring and the bone scroll tube with Karnack), Karnack mentioned that it would most likely take him at least a day to find the information, even with the help of his scribes.

Lightstep and Opalent then retraced their steps to the courtyard, along with their guards, and then were ushered, along with their companions, to one of the larger wooden buildings inside the west wall of the castle. This building was the castle’s civilian mess hall. It had four eight-foot long wooden tables with wooden benches on two sides of each table. The dinnerware was ceramic, with the flatware being of beaten iron. Just about the time the party entered the building, the skies finally opened, and it began to rain a hard, steady, cold rain. The party was treated to the best meal they had enjoyed in a while, enjoying rabbit stew with carrots, onions, and potatoes, and fresh baked bread. There was plenty of salt and pepper for seasoning, too. Fresh cow’s milk was supplied to wash it all down.

While enjoying his meal, Vandin espied another dwarf sitting at another table. Since the other dwarf appeared to be a fighter, Vandin approached the other dwarf with a friendly greeting. Vandin was taken aback momentarily, however, when the other dwarf responded in a less than cordial manner, saying something that sounded like “go pluck yourself!” After a moment’s hesitation, Vandin asked if the other dwarf would like to join the group, promising an equal share of any treasure gained. With that, the other dwarf revealed his name as Douag (pronounced “doo-agg”), and agreed to join. Vandin then regaled Douag with tales of slaying five orcs in a row at Losnoth as they kept coming through a door one at a time. And then Flenda impressed Douag even more by showing him the two orc ears she had taken as a trophy!

After the meal, the party rested and was shown to where they would be quartered for the night inside the western wall of the castle (to get there they had to enter the ground level of the western tower beside the main gate, then travel inside the wall). Wooden walls had been erected to create separate rooms along the inside wall, with wooden doors for each room. On the floor in the rooms were mattresses stuffed with hay or moss, and there were plenty of woolen blankets. Some civilian servants asked if anyone wanted to bathe, and also offered to wash clothes for anyone who desired such. Plain gray robes were offered for anyone who decided to partake of bathing or clothes-washing. Lightstep wanted to find out what was in the vial of clear fluid he had procured from Mont du Plat, so he decided to take a small sip. He decided it tasted like plain, ordinary water, although he still wasn’t sure was it was. Eventually, the party all retired for the night in the rooms assigned to them.

— The Dungeon Master

Journey to Karnack’s Castle: The Second Day

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

We now leave the action at the spider farm south of Rushtu’un, and return our attention to the other group of adventurers who are traveling to Karnack’s castle.


Day #2-26 (Airday, 6th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC) The party were all awake by 6 am, ate some food, then began their march towards Karnack’s castle once again, with Vandin and Vox in the lead, as usual. The day promised fair weather, as at dawn there was not a cloud in sight. They continued to march mostly towards the northeast, always keeping the Braztook Hills at least a couple of miles away to their right. Fortunately, Herschel Gobinmyer had given them a fair map and had mentioned prominent landmarks to navigate by. The group reached the road between Ganzir-Galad to the west and Fenshaft to the east about an hour before noon, so they lay down behind a low hill where they could not be spotted from the road, and ate lunch and rested for about 30 minutes. They then crossed the road, turned mostly north for another five miles, then were able to resume their northeastern course. Finally, in the late afternoon, after journeying about 20 miles, they made camp again. After dinner, the party realized they had collectively eaten about half of the rations they had started this journey with. They reckoned it should be OK, though, as they reckoned they should only have another 10 or 15 miles of marching to reach Karnack’s castle on the morrow.

Before retiring for the night, again without a campfire, the party decided on their night watch order: 1st watch: Vandin & Vox; 2nd watch: Falafela & Opalent; 3rd watch: Lightstep & Tureg; 4th watch: Gwenette & Jorgio. Vandin and Vox stood their early watch uneventfully, and then around 9 pm Falafela and Opalent took over. As it grew darker, there were only the stars for light, as the moon was a late-rising moon. Toward the end of their three-hour watch, both Falafela and Opalent heard a horse snort just on the other side of the low hill to the east of the party’s camp. Lightstep had been awake since making camp, as he was worried about his dangerous cargo of the evil ring that had been found at Mont du Plat, and he too heard the horse. So, he decided to sneak to the top of the low hill and see what was on the other side. Maybe 75 yards away was a small campfire, and Lightstep could make out the shapes of several horses and possibly several human-sized shapes near the fire.

— The Dungeon Master

Midnight Raid on the Farm!

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

DM note: 6th Dewsnap in the Wilderlands is equivalent to our “modern day” April 14. So, it is still springtime in the Wilderlands. It is also long past time to start introducing weather to the adventures.


Day #2-26 (Airday, 6th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC) Back in Rushtu’un, Atlas and Quodak Windsailor were sawing logs a couple of hours after midnight in their private bedroom at the Traveler’s Place, when suddenly there was a commotion. Thump thump thump thump thump! Someone was banging on their door, yelling, “Wake up! Everyone up! Get dressed, bring your weapons and meet in the street in front of the sheriff’s office!” Atlas and Quodak quickly rubbed the sleepies out of their eyes, donned their gear, then went down the stairs. On their way to go outside, they asked Orek what was happening. Orek answered, “One of the sheriff’s deputies just came by and said there was a raid on the farm a few miles south of here. Sheriff Hook is trying to raise a militia to go and rescue the farm workers.” Then Atlas and Quodak went outside into the cool night air.

Out in the street, just about everyone from the town had gathered in front of Sheriff Hook’s office. Hook raised his arms to quiet the crowd, then he spoke in a loud voice so everyone could hear him. “About 20 minutes ago, a worker from the farm to the south of here came to my office and related a tale that some creatures had attacked his master’s farm. He said these creatures were smaller than human-sized, about the size of goblins, but they had dark skin. The attackers had already killed some of the farm workers soon after the attack, and had captured other workers. The attackers struck about an hour after nightfall, when all the humans at the farm were asleep. I am raising the militia, and request every able-bodied man to volunteer to go with me and two of my deputies to the farm to rescue the workers who are still alive, and to kill or drive away the invaders. For those who will go along, please step forward. Those who are staying in town, please step back.”

After just a moment or so, about two-dozen volunteers had stepped forward, including the two innkeepers, Orek and Jacob Lightfeather. Hook quickly sorted some folks out. He said, “Mayor Strobel will be in charge here in town while the militia is away. To help guard against our village being attacked, I want all citizens to gather in either the Traveler’s Place or at the Weary Voyager. Fortify those two places, and be alert. Orek and Jacob, you two take charge of anyone who takes refuge in your businesses. The rest of you volunteers, I will divide you into three squads that will be led by Culain Cleb, Howard, and myself.”

Hook then sent Atlas (ring mail, shield, scimitar & short bow), Quodak (studded leather, shield, jo stick), Hook’s deputy Harrison (studded leather, long sword), a construction worker named Bud (no armor, club), Edward (chainmail, shield, spear), and Jazzmin Nightwind (leather, dagger), a woman, who insisted on going along, to be commanded by Culain. Howard (a magic-user) was directed to take Alewyn van Ronk (no armor, short sword & light crossbow), Cedric (leather, broad sword), deputy Cesure (studded leather, long sword), a construction worker named Haro with a large hammer (no armor), Hillman (studded leather, shield, spear), and the cleric Sigfreid Golman (chainmail, shield, hammer). Hook (studded leather, shield, long sword) himself commanded Roberre Marley (no armor, dagger), the cleric Winslow Kellen (chainmail, shield, mace), and five construction workers: Arlford (club); Borgo (club); Diedo (short sword); Fareigh (pitchfork); Manlo (spear) — none of the construction workers had any armor.

Hook reminded everyone to keep quiet on the march, and to show no lights. The moon would be late rising, and was past its last crescent, in any case, so it would be dark on the march. Then, the militia was off to the farm, being led by the escaped farm worker. It was a three-mile march, and when the group was about a half-mile away from the farm, Hook reminded everyone once again to keep quiet. Hook then directed Culain’s group to take the left wing, Howard’s group to take the right wing, and Hook would keep his group in the center. The columns then cautiously approached the farm. While on the march, Atlas asked someone what kind of a farm they were going to, and was somewhat alarmed when he found out it was a spider farm! Atlas revealed he had a phobia about spiders! Fellow marcher, deputy Harrison, said, “Yeah, it’s a spider farm. They raise giant spiders and harvest the webs and make them into strong cloth. Don’t worry, the spiders are kept underground and are restrained by heavy timbers.” In spite of hearing that the spiders were restrained, Atlas was worried, wondering what he had got himself into.

When the first buildings of the farm came into dim view about 40 minutes before sunrise, Hook quietly passed word for everyone to hold their places. He then sent Roberre Marley, a half-elf, to creep forward and reconnoiter. After 30 minutes, Roberre returned, and said, “I only saw two non-human creatures walking from one building to another, and no humans at all. There are a couple of horses in the stable at the south end of the farm, and the horses are fairly spooked. That is all.” Hook decided to wait a few more minutes for the sun to rise, surmising that if the creatures were like goblins, even though the farm worker called them “shadow goblins,” then the creatures probably didn’t see too well in daylight. Also, Hook knew that almost all of his party were humans, and so they didn’t see too well in the dark, and in the early dawn it was quite likely to still be dark inside the buildings.

Finally, dawn came in, although nobody saw the sun rise as there was a solid cloud cover overhead. Hook made a suggestion as to how to proceed, but it met some resistance. Howard offered a different course of action, so Hook said, “Howard, you should take charge then.” So now Howard was calling the shots.

The group was approaching the farm from the southwest since they had circled to the south of the farm on the approach, thinking that the northern approach was more likely to be guarded. In that southwest corner of the farm was the residence of the owner, Ulayah Reyn, and of his daughter, Heri. Culain’s group was kept at the western edge of the house, while Howard’s group circled to the eastern side of the building. Hillman, Sigfried, Alewyn, and Cedric went into the residence, and after a minute they all came back out and said there was nobody inside.

Next, Culain’s team went to the next building to the north, the women’s dormitory. It was a one story wooden building, 30 feet by 40 feet in dimension, with a single door on the eastern wall. Atlas entered the building first, closely followed by Quodak. While there were wooden cots around the outside of the walls, the center of the interior was clear, except for the rotund owner of the farm, Ulayah, who was tied to a chair and who was surrounded by several shadow goblins. Atlas had his scimitar at the ready, and he swung it with all of his considerable might, neatly slicing the closest shadow goblin in half! Quodak quickly tried to attack the shadow goblin closest to him, but missed on his first strike with his bo stick. Then a wild melee ensued, with Edward, deputy Harrison, Bud, and Jazzmin all also entering the building and the fray. There were still three shadow goblins surrounding Ulayah, and two more who were off to the side, napping. Two of the shadow goblins were a bit larger and stronger than the rest, and they were vicious fighters. One of those shadow goblins, in fact, rendered Atlas hors de combat as Atlas fell heavily to the ground after being struck multiple times by the shadow goblin’s short sword and dagger combination.

More human reinforcements poured into the building, including two of the construction workers from Hook’s group, Arlford and Borgo. At the same time, the napping shadow goblins awoke and also joined the fray. Culain then muscled his way into the building, and he proved to be very effective immediately, using his shield and spear to quickly dispatch two of the shadow goblins. In the meantime, the two leader shadow goblins were now each double or triple-teamed but were still holding their own. Then when Culain turned his attention to one of those shadow goblins, it finally went down with Culain’s spear through its vitals. Just at that time, Jazzmin Nightwind, who had maneuvered herself to the rear of the last remaining shadow goblin, dispatched it with a deft backstab.

The humans took stock of their casualties. Edward and Quodak were the only humans still on their feet who had received wounds; however, Atlas, and the two construction workers Arlford and Borgo, were down. It was found that Arlford was dead, although Borgo still lived. Atlas was covered in so much blood that he was believed dead until Jazzmin checked for a pulse. Finding one, she cried, “He’s still alive!” and so she and some others quickly bound Atlas’ wounds to prevent the further effusion of blood. And, in the background, the owner of the farm Ulayah was still yelling and screaming and struggling against the ropes that bound him to his chair. Someone then cut Ulayah loose and tried to calm him down. Atlas and Borgo were placed on cots along the south wall of the dorm, and the dead shadow goblins were stacked along the north wall.

<to be continued>

— The Dungeon Master

DM note: Unfortunately, play had to be suspended just where the above narrative left off. When it eventually resumes, the further action will be added to this post.

Journey to Karnack’s Castle: The First Day

Friday, January 15th, 2016

This post begins the journey of the group from Crystal Falls to Karnack’s castle. The wise old druid of Crystal Falls, Herschel Gobinmyer, had directed the party to travel to see Karnack to see if Karnack could discover anything about the evil ring that had been found at Mont du Plat, and to see if anything could reverse the apparent zombie curse that had befallen Crystal Shores.

Day #2-25 (Spiritday, 5th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC) The party arose from Mylene’s loft around 7 am, then gathered up the girls and Jorgio from the Deathmar’s house. They all ate as much food as they could, then departed the village of Crystal Shores around 8 am. They decided, since they had to march around 60 miles, that they should pace themselves at about a 2 miles-per-hour speed. Around an hour after high noon they reached the ruins of Mont du Plat, crossing over to the north side of the south branch of the River Bushkill on the low bridge. They then traveled past 6 buildings, a few of which had the stench of death about them. The party did not stop to investigate, though, as they were in a hurry to reach Karnack’s castle. The druid Herschel Gobinmyer had actually tried to get the adventurers to rest an extra day before they began their trek, but they all felt good enough to start as soon as possible.

About an hour after passing through Mont du Plat, the party stopped for a 30 minute long lunch break and rest. (They had also been resting for 5 or 10 minutes per hour of marching.) Then they resumed their march. After around 10 hours of marching, at about 6 pm, they had left the river behind (it was merely a creek at this point, anyway) and finally emerged from the jungle and into the clear. They could see that ahead of them was mostly clear terrain, with a few scattered low hills to their front, and they could plainly see the Braztook Hills on their right, to the east. They decided to make camp at this time, as they had already marched at least 20 miles. They made no fire, lest it attract any unwanted attention. They ate dinner, then posted a paired watch of Opalent and Vox, then Falafela and Vandin, then Flenda and Lightstep, and finally Gwenette and Jorgio, each pair standing watch for three hours. When Falafela and Vandin were standing watch, they heard a loud crash from the direction of the jungle, right near where they had been marching during the day. They surmised it was merely a dead tree falling, and since it did not wake anyone else up, they decided to just watch even more intently, but nothing else occurred during the rest of the night.

— The Dungeon Master

DM note: To make it easier to read the adventures in proper chronological order, I have added a link in the sidebar under “Fantasy Role-Playing” that points to the D&D Adventure Log. You could even bookmark that link, if you enjoy reading these adventures.

Resting and Recuperating at Rushtu’un

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

So, it’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted about Dungeons & Dragons adventures. I had some computer troubles over the Christmas holidays that kept me from posting. But now those computer issues have been resolved, and it’s time to post some more adventures!


Day #2-25 (Spiritday, 5th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC) The next morning after their adventure down the well, Atlas, Edward, and Quodak met Hillman at the Sheriff’s office in Rushtu’un and each collected their 15 Gold Piece (GP) share from the recovered treasure. They also took the 15 GP share for Preston (which they gave to him when they visited him shortly after). They then went with the Sheriff to Netto’s General Store, where Netto appraised the values of the pearl, the bloodstone, and the silver cloak clasp. Netto figured the cloak clasp was worth about 20 GP, while he placed a value of 25 GP on the bloodstone, and 100 GP on the pearl. None of the adventurers had the money to buy out the others’ shares of those items, so the Sheriff kept them for safekeeping for now.

Then the party traipsed over to the Weary Voyager to see how Preston was getting on. They found he had regained consciousness, so Quodak cast two Cure Light Wounds spells on Preston, which cured 6 Hit Points of damage. (Quodak had prayed early upon arising to regain his spells.) The proprietor of the Weary Voyager, Jacob Lightfeather, thanked Quodak for helping to heal Preston’s wounds. Quodak also made a trip to Mingo’s Marvelous Maps, et cetera, where Quodak was able to sell his crude map of the dungeon to Mingo for 1 Silver Piece (SP). While Quodak kept the original map, Mingo made a much nicer map, drawing with ink upon parchment. Quodak mentioned to Mingo that there was still some kind of unknown beast in the dungeon in a large cavern that was filled with water, so perhaps some other adventurers would purchase such a map to go exploring.

After noon, Quodak went to Netto’s General Store and bought a new 50-foot rope, a small knife, a “mess kit” (consisting of a beaten metal plate, bowl, and cup), and some salt and seasonings that were wrapped in small paper envelopes. That all cost 2 GP, 4 SP, and 2 Copper Pieces (CP) total. Meanwhile, Atlas went to Alewyn’s Arms and bought a short bow, a quiver, and a dozen arrows for 22 GP and 8 SP. Then both Atlas and Quodak signed up at Culain’s Fighting Academy for some fighting lessons, Atlas to learn the fundamentals of using a short bow, and Quodak to learn more about using his bo stick more efficiently. That cost each of them 4 GP for the first week’s lessons, paid in advance, of course. Then, late in the afternoon, the duo returned to the Traveler’s Place, and had their last free meal and last free night’s lodging.

Also during the day, Sully Westerbrook’s widow was brought to town by two of Sheriff Hook’s deputies to make a positive identification of her late husband’s body, and needless to say she was grief-stricken about having to perform that unwelcome deed. Some other women of the town did their best to console Mrs. Westerbrook. After Sully’s body was identified by his widow, some townsfolk had a short funeral service after which they buried Sully’s body in the side yard of his house. The bones of the unknown carpenter were buried just outside of town in an unmarked grave.

Also, various townsfolk looked at the head and the feet of the strange beast that was killed by the adventurers, and Sheriff Hook said he thought it was called a meazel. While he had never seen one in person before, it sort of matched a description he had heard several years before by some other travelers who had passed through the village of Rushtu’un.

Experience points: Monsters killed in the dungeon (on 4th Dewsnap): 6 giant rats (7 XP each, plus 1 XP per HP) = 6 * 7 + 16 HP = 42 + 16 = 58 XP; 1 meazel (85 XP + 4 XP/HP) = 85 + 4 * 26 = 85 + 104 = 189 XP. Total monster XP = 58 + 189 = 247 XP. Treasure: 100 GP, 40 SP, 50 CP, a gold ring, silver necklace, silver cloak clasp (20 GP value), steel dagger, a pearl (100 GP value), a bloodstone (25 GP value). There was also the 25 SP found at the rat’s nest, adding 1.25 GP equivalent value. Total money value = 638.5 GP.

Total experience point value is 247 + 639 = 886 XP. This needs to be divided by two regular characters (each gets a full share) and three non-player characters (each gets a half-share). This makes 7 half-shares to be divided, so 886 / 7 = 127 XP per half-share (Edward, Hillman, Preston), or 253 XP per full share (Atlas, Quodak). Atlas & Quodak each get a 10% XP bonus due to their high strength & wisdom, respectively, so they each get 278 XP.

Treasure division: The party had to turn in the gold ring, the silver necklace, and the steel dagger, but nobody claimed to have lost the silver cloak clasp or the pearl or the bloodstone, so the party can keep them and divide their value. Out of the money, Sheriff Hook took out the 75 GP rewards (50 GP for Sully, 25 GP for the missing carpenter), then gave the rest of the money to Sully’s widow, so each member of the party could get 15 GP from the rewards. Each member of the party got to keep their 5 SP from the rat’s nest.

Total accumulated experience points: Atlas 278; Quodak Windsailor 278; Edward 127; Hillman 127; Preston Daniel 127 XP.

— The Dungeon Master