First Time Dungeon Delvers
Back in November, I assembled some of the Norwin Game Knights for an exciting session of XD Publishing's Adventures in the East Mark. The game was a blast, and I was really excited to showcase a great OSR title in our group. Unfortunately, we could only get through the first half of Tower of the Swamp, one of the adventures provided in the Basic Rule Set. So I brought the game to a thrilling conclusion, and just took comfort in a great session.
Imagine my delight when I found out that some of the players wanted to regroup to finish the adventure! It took a few months to get back to the table, between the holidays and the flu. Finally, last night some of the original players, as well as a couple new folks, gathered to slay the evil forces plaguing the Tower's dungeons.
Cheryl was back in action as Landiel "The Doe of Boceret", the party's Elf leader.
Ed returned to the table as Maya the Robledan Warrior.
Not wanting to be left out of the action, Michelle grabbed Kaela the Mage's character sheet, ready to hurl some spells.
Craig, who played Adventures in the East Mark with us back at Gen Con 2014, chose the brave Paladin, Saddin Konnin, for this dungeon delve.
Eric, a first-time RPG player, picked Khedron Dahl, a mace-wielding Cleric ready to purge the Tower of the Swamp of all evil.
|Entering the dungeon, Landiel scouts ahead with her elvish vision|
With the Tower of the Swamp's upper level cleared of evil, Landiel spoke to her adventuring party and determined who would explore the dreaded passages below. Maya, Saddin, and Kaela zealously gathered their weapons and gear, while the party's Cleric, Khedron Dahl, grabbed his shield and followed his guard dog, Skinner. The steps heading down into the crypts below were ancient, and in poor repair. Saddin slung his shield and lit a torch for the group's humans, while Landiel carefully scouted ahead for threats with the aid of her infravision.
For the first half-hour or so the party didn't come across any significant threats. The hallways throughout the dungeon may have been cold, but lit torches placed throughout the complex proved that someone, or something, had taken up residence. A storeroom yielded proof that the Tower's inhabitants were in fact the culprits in local raids.
There was also the drumming.
As the party moved deeper into the dungeon corridors, there was a soft, dull, drumming echoing throughout the halls. Down the main corridor, the group saw several doors, and Landiel's sharp eyesight revealed a secret door on the western wall. Choosing the first doorway to the east, Landiel moved forward and opened the door. The source of the drumming was far more terrible than anyone could imagine. Inside the chamber, in the middle of sparse furniture, three priests of the demon Orcus chanted fell secrets while pounding on a drum made out of hairy, human flesh.
Since she was standing in the middle of the door, the three priests charged Landiel, slashing and stabbing with wicked daggers. Landiel backed away, clutching a vicious wound, while Maya, Saddin, and Khedron filled the gap, blocking the priests from escaping. Swords slashed and maces smashed, and one by one the evil minions of Orcus fell dead. Maya felt pretty good about her prowess, and was grinning ear to ear as she valiantly destroyed the forces of darkness…
… and then the strong Robledan Warrior, realized that there was a crossbow bolt sticking out of her chest!
Shocked by the possible treachery, Maya turned around, eyes wincing in agony. Instead of a villain, the warrior only saw Landiel holding a hand over her mouth and shaking her head. Apparently the elf was trying to contribute to combat by firing her crossbow into melee, but missed.
When the last evil priest was slain, the party moved into the chamber and started digging around. Some dirty shoes and socks, ritual knives, and a silver dagger were among the riches recovered. Maya stuck the silver dagger in her backpack, and the team reentered the main corridor. Landiel approached the secret door to the west, and took a look through a small gap in the wall. Inside was a terrible torture chamber, where a yellow robed high priest of Orcus was performing some kind of sick rite involving blood, snakes, and all kinds of random, fantastic awfulness.
The high priest was alone, save for his snake participants, so the party decided to perform a surprise attack. Looking at each other, the strongest, deadliest, and most capable party-member was chosen for the job.
"Skin 'em!" shouted Khedron to his trained guard dog Skinner.
The dog sprung into action, and charged the high priest who was clearly taken aback. Despite Skinner's verve, the cultist managed to fend off the attack using his magic hammer. The high priest then commanded his snakes to attack Skinner, and started preparing a spell. The party realized that the dog was outmatched, so Maya, Landiel, Saddin, and Kaela entered the room with weapons drawn and spells ready.
Even though the heroes outnumbered the high priest five-to-one, they were having a very difficult time harming the demon-worshiper. Crossbow bolts and sling stones simply missed the high priest. Even when Maya engaged in hand to hand combat, her bastard sword wasn't drawing blood. Keep in mind that Saddin was nowhere to be found in this combat. When the paladin charged the high priest, he was overcome with fear and fled the room screaming. Kaela was trying to deal with the snakes during all this mess, but when she lobbed a torch at the the pile of venomous reptiles, she missed.
[GM's note: this was the absolute worst rolling I have seen in about a decade. The party needed either a 15 or higher to hit the priest's AC 2, so about 25% of the attacks should have been getting through. After twelve consecutive attacks, only one hit. That's an 8.33% success rate. Just terrible]
So... yeah… the battle was going very poorly…
But then Landiel started turning the tide with a well placed Magic Missile spell. The next hit would come from Khedron, who smashed through the high priest's armor with his mace, completely rattling the demon-worshipper. The high priest started to flee, but not before Khedron caught him again with some well-placed cudgeling. The high priest fell dead! After Kaela successfully dispersed the tiny snakes with the torch, the team believed that enough evil had been vanquished for the day. Victorious yet tired, Landiel decided that there had been enough battle for the day, and led the team out of the dungeon.
Cheryl - "I have elvish vision."
Ed - "You can only see elves?"
"It's a non-echoing, heavy dripping." - Jim the GM describes dripping in exquisite detail.
"I have my 'Cheeseburger of Battle', that should give me a +10!" - Cheryl pleads with the GM for an unusual bonus.
"I have totally changed my opinion. Skinner leads the party." - Ed found out that Khedron's dog has 2 more hit points than the party's Warrior.
"We would be defeated by Cookie Monster at this point." - Ed was totally disgusted with the group's rolling.
Go get started!
Another exciting adventure in the East Mark, but if this little tidbit of OSR goodness seemed like fun, you have to check out the game!
The PDF can be found on DrivethruRPG.com for under $10. Just want to give it a look? The Quick Start rules are FREE!
If you want a print copy it's available as a boxed set directly from XD Publishing.