Sunday, November 15, 2015

Viking Crawl Classics - Isle of the Abbey - Session 3


#JimCon2015 Continues


Dungeon Magazine Issue #34 arrived at my house in Levittown, Pennsylvania in the spring of 1992.  After falling in love with Issue #29, borrowed from my first dungeon master Chuck, I asked my mom to get me my own subscription.  It would be my second magazine subscription after Ranger Rick.  Issue #34, with its cover picture of a skeleton rising out of the sand to strike down a unsuspecting mariner, was the first issue to arrive at my house…

… and it was perfect!  

Four full-length adventures, one side-trek, two sheets of cut-out D&D collector cards (of course I collected those!), and advertisements for more sourcebooks, supplements, and settings than a thirteen year old could afford.  On the inside of the back cover was an ad for Van Richten's Guide to Vampires, and I'm pretty sure that the epic image of Strahd with his cape of red, vein-filled, membrane sparked my early interest in the Ravenloft setting.

Of the five adventures included in Issue #34, I've run three:

  • Euphoria Horrors, a low-level AD&D 2E search for the faerie dragon best friend of a young boy.
  • The Lady Rose, a mid-level AD&D 2E assault on a ship of technologically advanced (think Spanish Conquistador) slavers.
  • Isle of the Abbey, a low-level D&D Basic exploration of a skeleton filled island.

I only ran The Lady Rose one time as a solo module for my friend Steve in the ninth grade.  The adventure wasn't designed to be a solo adventure, so I'm pretty sure I did a lot of editing.  Most likely I didn't run the game as written, but it was the 90's, and that's how we rolled.  

Since Euphoria Horrors was designed for 1st and 2nd level characters, I've run it at least three or four times over the years.  I even converted the adventure into Savage Worlds back in 2013 for a family-friendly game of Savage Dragonlance.  



Like Euphoria Horrors, Isle of the Abbey was designed for low-level characters as well (1st to 3rd level.)  During my middle-school and high-school years I must have kicked off at least half a dozen adventures on the isle, but they always stalled out.  I can't remember if it was the beach full of skeletons, or the assault on the Abbey's basement, or just a lack of interest, but we couldn't finish this module.  Fast forward to the summer of 2012 and I was still interested in running Isle of the Abbey as part of an AD&D 2nd Edition Dragonlance campaign we almost kicked off.  But when the campaign collapsed after character generation, Issue #34 was returned to my collection.  I would have to wait another three years before returning to the Isle of the Abbey.

I'm now happy to report that through the epic power of Dungeon Crawl Classics, I can finally scratch Isle of the Abbey off of my list of unfinished adventures!

This play report is the third for our Viking Crawl Classics take on Isle of the Abbey.  If you are interested in prior session summaries, you can follow either of these links:



The play report for Session 1 includes most of my design notes for what was going to just be a mini-campaign.  Although following this session, I don't think you're reading the last of our Vikings!  




Our Brave Viking Crew


Hildenoore the Wizard, played by Jennifer
  • 1st Level
  • Occupation: Squire
  • Alignment: Chaos
  • Str 8, Agi 11, Sta 14, Per 15, Int 12, Luc 17
  • Lucky Sign: Wild Child
  • Weapons:  Staff, Dagger, Longsword
  • Spells:  Ekim's Mystical Mask, Flaming Hands, Spider Climb, Ventriliquism
  • Attendants: None
Rolo the Cleric, played by Craig
  • 1st Level
  • Occupation: Astrologer
  • Alignment: Law
  • Str 11, Agi 13, Sta 11, Per 14, Int 15, Luc 14
  • Lucky Sign: Harsh Winter
  • Weapons:  Warhammer, Sling, Dagger
  • Spells:  Darkness, Holy Sanctuary, Protection from Evil, Second Sight
  • Attendants: None
Frelger the Thief, played by Andy 
  • 1st Level
  • Occupation: Alchemist
  • Alignment: Chaos
  • Str 10, Agi 10, Sta 14, Per 10, Int 14, Luc 10
  • Lucky Sign: Seventh Son
  • Weapons:  Short Sword, Dagger, Staff
  • Attendants: None
Brienne the Warrior, played by Cheryl
  • 1st Level
  • Occupation: Herder
  • Alignment: Neutral
  • Str 11, Agi 14, Sta 16, Per 11, Int 11, Luc 17
  • Lucky Sign: Hawkeye
  • Weapons:  Short Bow, Short Sword, Staff
  • Attendants:
    • Orr the Rutabaga Farmer
Calder the Warrior, played by Ed 
  • 1st Level
  • Occupation: Butcher
  • Alignment: Neutral
  • Str 15, Agi 10, Sta 12, Per 11, Int 11, Luc 14
  • Lucky Sign: Four-leafed Clover
  • Weapons:  Battle Axe, Spear, Hand Axe 
  • Attendants: None



Isle of the Abbey, Part Three


After several skirmishes in the basement of the once mighty Abbey, Hildenoore was ready for a break.  Both battles required the wizard to spellburn, and following several arcane misfires, she would require a full eight hours of rest to regain access to her only offensive spell: flaming hands.  So while Frelger, Brienne, and Calder began searching the basement for loot, and Rolo prepared healing magic courtesy of Odin (in turn gaining some disapproval), Hildenoore napped.  

[Judge's Note:  Jen's wizard was down two spells at this point: Ventriloquism and Flaming Hands.  She was not happy to learn that she couldn't regain her points of Strength, Agility, and Stamina after resting.  In DCC rules, wizards and elves only regain their spellburned attributes at a rate of one point for each day spent "not" spellburning.  This of course meant I spent a lot of the game getting scowled at by my wife, who felt that I didn't tell her the full ramifications of spellburning.  Oops!]

The Abbey's basement was stocked with everything a band of chaos-worshiping warlocks would need to live out their unpleasant lives.  Kegs full of nails and corned beef [yes, that's in the original adventure], weapons hidden in lumber piles, three arcane scrolls, and books about chaos lore were just some of the items found by Frelger.  The thief led the search while under the watchful eye of Calder.  Perhaps the lawful warrior feared his mischievous associate would pocket something for himself.  But Calder's interest in Frelger's search would be tested in a room full of statues.

The room seemed simple enough.  A pair of large humanoid statues (a skeleton and a medusa), as well as smaller statues.  When Frelger and Calder went to search one of the statues they realized that these constructs were not made of stone, but of a much lighter, more fragile material: plaster.  Frelger tipped one of the statues, that of a dog, and it shattered revealing the corpse of a long dead canine trapped within.  The thief then did the same to the skeleton statue and the ancient, yet still bizarrely moist, body of a shackled human tumbled out of the fragmented remains.  

Calder looked upon the corpse and saw the hands and feet bound by rune-carved shackles, but could take no more.  The warrior bolted from the room, seeking something to cleanse his hands from the filth of the statues.  He first tried water, but soon realized that something hotter was necessary.  Thankfully, just before Calder stuck his hands fire, his mind calmed, and he regained composure.  

Brienne assured Calder that he wouldn't need to return to the statue room, and the party moved on.  

There were two final unique items that the party acquired during their search.  The first was a set of magic boots, kept in the same chamber that belonged to the shield-armed, elven sorcerer.  Frelger looked at the boots, and thought they looked mighty fine.  While they fit perfectly, he instantly found himself stricken by some kind of cold or flu.  No matter, the boots made the thief more sneaky.  

[In the original Dungeon Magazine adventure, these were Boots of Elvenkind, but since this was DCC I had to twist them a bit.  So I give you the Boots of Fragile Silence!  When worn, the Boots of Fragile Silence instantly give the wearer a +2 bonus to Sneak Silently (even if they are not a Thief or Halfling), while reducing his or her hit point total by 2.  The boots can only be removed by an Elven Cobbler.]

The other unique item would be a strange, yet not magical, amulet.  Figuring that the boots were already cursed, and that his luck could only improve, Frelger donned the talisman.  

After searching everywhere, the rest of the party decided to wait for Hildenoore to wake up before moving on.  They would want their wizard's assistance when they explored the secret door in the basement's meditation room. 

[This was probably for the best, as Jen was getting antsy.  The exploration took about 45 minutes, of which Jen wasn't able to do anything but watch.  Craig had no sympathy for the wizard's player, as he once spent an entire D&D 3E game as a spectator when his character ended up as a stone statue for multiple sessions.]

Frelger offered to take the lead as the party passed through the secret door.  With a ten foot pole in hand, the thief prodded the floor carefully, the passage illuminated by Calder's lit torch.  After only thirty feet, Frelger found himself in the center of a larger chamber…

… surrounded by five skeletons and five zombies!

While Frelger's associates prepared their weapons, the thief silently noted that the undead were not moving.  At least not yet.  The thief made sure that he was moving quietly, making no sound as tiptoed into the chamber.  But the undead also refrained from moving towards the warriors, cleric, and wizard.  Frelger was about to breath a sigh of relief when all of the undead turned towards him, staring at his chest.

They were looking right at the amulet!  

Not only did the amulet keep the undead from attacking the Frelger, it also made the thief their master.  With a sharp command, Frelger ordered the skeletons and zombies out of the basement and into the ruins above.  He then turned his attention to the next door.

[In the original adventure, Ozymandias' medallion would keep the undead from attacking the wearer, but it made no mention of "commanding" the undead.  Still, this seemed to be a fun twist, and I wanted to reward Andy for not just stashing the amulet until it could be examined more carefully.]

The door leading out of the undead chamber took the Viking raiders right into a trap-laden maze full of bugs.

[Think an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom level of bugs.]

Using their torches to keep the bugs at bay, the party slowly entered the maze and followed a path east and then towards the south.  A pair of doors opening outward greeted the party before the passage wound to the right.  Brienne opened the first door and was struck by a crossbow bolt!  Fortunately the quarrel didn't penetrate the warrior's armor, but she was much more careful opening the second door.  Brienne allowed Calder to pull the door open while shielding himself from whatever could fly out… 

… like another crossbow bolt!

The two crossbow rooms had nothing else on the inside save for the crossbows.  Brienne grabbed one and then ordered the team to continue west and then south into a much larger chamber.

When the Viking raiders first laid their eyes on the next room they believed their victory to be at hand!  Chests of gold and jewels filled the chamber, encircling a beautiful crystal statue of a woman clutching a broadsword.  Frelger immediately began searching the chests but something was amiss.  The coins and jewels were not what they seemed.  The coins were simply painted wooden chips, while the jewels were shards of glass.  Calder set the coins on fire, frustrated at the lack of riches in the room.

Before the party could continue their search, however, the Crystal Statue began to move!  

Despite it's deadly appearance, the Crystal Statue proved to be little threat.  The statue was barely off the pedestal when Frelger stabbed it in the back with a dagger.  Hildenoore followed up with a Magic Missile scroll.  Using the flickering light from the nearby fire, the Crystal Statue countered, converted the light into a blindingly painful spray.  Only Frelger felt the radiant pain, as the rest of the party shut their eyes.  Calder's battle axe and Rolo's hammer shattered the Crystal Statue into powder.

[The Living Crystal Statue is featured in Isle of the Abbey as a construct with three hit dice.  Here's my conversion: 

Init: 0; Atk crystal sword +3 melee (1d8); AC 14; HD 3d8; HP 16; MV 30'; Act 1d20; SV Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +3; AL N

Special Attack:  Light Arc - combine nearby light into a 360 degree spray.  All creatures in 30' must make a DC12 Reflex Save or get struck for 1d4 damage.]

After the battle the Viking raiders returned to their search.  Several of the chests were trapped, but by this point Frelger was using one of the zombies as an assistant.  

Poisoned darts don't affect zombies!  

A box at the base of the statue seemed of interest.  Carefully Frelger opened the box, but inside was only a simple message:

"Dear thief: a lot of work for nothing, wasn't it?"  

Frelger continued to search the pedestal, and he found a small slot large enough for a coin… 

… or an amulet.

Realizing that this could be the last he saw of his undead controlling medallion, Frelger commanded the undead to flee the premises.  Once he was sure that the path back to the beach was free of undead, the thief placed the medallion into the slot, causing a secret door to the east to open.

The next room was very similar to the last.  Very large, full of what could be treasure, with a humanoid statue at the center.  But rather than a crystal woman, this chamber contained the statue of an iron minotaur!  As soon as Frelger entered the confines of the room the statue animated!  

[As before, I converted the Living Iron Statue into DCC rules, which is a piece of cake:

Init: 0; Atk metal fist (1d8); AC 16; HD 4d8; HP 24; MV 30'; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +3; AL N

Special Attack:  Crushing Rush, +6 melee attack (1d12) so long as the Iron Statue can charge 20'.]

Frelger wasn't about to stay in the construct's way.  The thief immediately tumbled out of sight and into darkness.  Rolo would be the next target but the cleric asked Odin for a holy sanctuary.  With a mighty, mechanical roar, the Iron Statue charged Brienne the Warrior.

"I'll crush ya!" the statue howled.  With a single shoulder bash the Iron Statue knocked Brienne down, cracking her skull.  Without immediate clerical aid the warrior would die!  

[At this point in the game I think everyone forgot what we were playing.  In Dungeon Crawl Classics, it doesn't take much to knock a character out of action.  But where a 0-level character dies at one hit point, a 1st level character has a round before they "bleed out" in which healing magic can return them to life.]  

Hildenoore had enough of these stupid animated statues.  Pulling out her second Magic Missile scroll the wizard chanted the words and five blasts of energy pummeled the Iron Statue until it's metal frame cracked.  The infernal creation was destroyed!

[Although I suggested Jen spellburn her character on the "boss battle", my wife quickly said "no."  Instead she just rolled a natural twenty, adding her one and only point of spellcasting for a grand total of "21".  Of course in DCC this causes 1d4+2 missiles that cause 1d6+1 damage for a 1st level wizard.  That's a lot of arcane firepower!]

When the dust settled, Rolo ran over and healed Brienne while Frelger searched the rest of the treasures.  At least fifteen-hundred gold pieces were kept in the chamber, with another thousand gold pieces worth of jewels and gems.  All the riches would most certainly make Brienne and her fellow raiders legends amongst their people, and change the opinion of Earl Ivar, once they returned home…

… which, given their burned longship, could take quite some time.  


Quotes


"Okay, so they are chaotic magicky books… without magic?" - Andy's character Frelger discovers the most forbidden-y library.

"What's the mule's alignment?" - Ed wanted to see if the party's pack animal was as freaked out as his own warrior by the books.

"What good is a thief without a sack?" - Andy speaks the truth.

"This ain't fifth edition, I ain't holding your hand." - Jim the DCC Judge lays down the law.

Jim - "What could you do for Odin?"
Jen - "Give him a shoulder rub?"

"Minions, go defend the upstairs!" - Frelger commands his new skeletal friends.

"I'm going first… I'm invincible in this place!" - Andy's announcement would've been epic if his character died.