Friday, January 29, 2010

LL at DH's: The Quickening

And so it's time once again to speak of my weekly Labyrinth Lord game, when a couple of days have passed and the expired cheese that passes for my memory is already beginning to dissipate. That being said, I've finally gotten to the point where I remember the entire party's names, if not exact spellings, and I can tell you that the name of the town we have been bumming about in is known as Westenford.

So. When we left off, the party was just finishing up a lovely dinner with the parents of a young half elf named Amos. Since we had worked a deal with the local constabulary to roust the ghouls from the tunnel complex under the old burned out guard post, we decided to go out and hire some help. We decided to form a fund for hirlings, each chipping in a gold crown to get some backup.

We went first to the "Dying Minotaur", but since most of the clientele of that establishment was working stiffs, we didn't find any takers for our job posting. (Which initially was our stalwart paladin standing impressively on a chair and calling all in earshot to come and fight evil with him...) Asking discreetly at the bar, we were directed to go to a dive in the rougher part of town known as the "Red Keg", and so off we went. When the group got there, we found a crowd gathered around a game of darts with bets being laid. The strong contender was a dwarf named Gap (named after the huge gap in his front teeth) who seemed to play for the sheer love of the game. The challenger was handily beaten (losing Liam the Elf Ranger and Kooda Dood the Mage a couple of crowns in the process) and soon the crowd was dispersing, while the gap toothed dwarf called for a new challenger.

Desiring to make some friends, and perhaps initiate some business, Deacon Silver stepped up and accepted the dwarf's exhortation to a game. Taking three darts in hand, the contest began. The deacon had a really good first shot, and managed to beat Gap in a narrow game. (I'm not sure I remember, but I hope at this point I won back some of my comrades' money.)

The Deacon offered to buy Gap a drink, so we went to the bar, where it turned out that the dart playing dwarf was the younger brother of the bar's owner and actually worked there. When I asked Gap about who might be interested in joining us on a dangerous expedition, and he referred us to his brother (name forgotten, sorry DH), who was much cannier and businesslike. He in turn pointed out a hard bitten looking fellow wearing a wolf skin cloak and armed with a mace, a fighter who went by the name of Three Fingered Melkior. He was missing two fingers on his left hand, which he'd lost to a wolf in the forest after poverty had forced him to sleep there rather than in the town. He was so poor, that he'd had to pawn his sword and settle for using a mace as a weapon. After a bit of haggling, both with our potential hireling and among ourselves, we signed him on for the price of four crowns a month, plus a promise to buy his sword back from the pawnbroker for him. With that done we headed back to the Dying Minotaur to sleep and rest up for our expedition the next day.

The following morning, we got up, geared up, and went to gather Lieutenant Webber, the town guard who would accompany us down to witness our slaying of the undead so that we could collect bounties on them.

The group decended into the dismal hole and set out searching, checking in the various rooms we'd discovered to make sure nothing was lurking there. The only change since our last foray was the mysterious chest that had dissolved into a cloud of smoke had reverted to its solid state and crashed to the floor, shattering into splinters. Among the wreckage we found some old clothes and an ornate dagger, which Kooda claimed for himself.

We finally found our undead quarry, three ghouls and two skeletons, lurking at the end of the main corridor. Our plan was for the Deacon to turn them, and then only attack one at a time so that we could slay them piecemeal. Of course, the plan being a plan, this didn't survive contact with the enemy. My roll wasn't good enough to turn the ghouls, who charged us, although thankfully the skeletons were turned and stayed out of the fight. If they hadn't, I think we would have been overwhelmed.

The fighters, Melkior and Früdje, took the front, with Deacon Silver standing ready to either cure wounds or paralysis should that become necessary, since to step forward with his quarterstaff would have widened the fight from two on two to three on three. Liam the Elf took a shot with his longbow, but sadly only managed to hit the Paladin squarely in the back, forcing him to use his laying on of hands on friendly fire. Klint the thief attempted to sneak up for a backstab, but was noticed and got pulled into the fighting.

Eventually, the front line managed to take out one of the ghouls, so that the Deacon and could step up, but in response the ghouls managed to grieviously wound both Melkior, Früdje, and Klint, and leave the thief, the paladin, and Deacon Silver paralysed from the horrible touch of their claws. DH's critical wound table was rolled for all characters whod been reduced to zero, leaving Melkior with a shattered knee, our paladin with a hand so wounded he couldn't hold his sword, and Klint with a dislocated shoulder. It was Liam with his sword, Kooda with thrown daggers, and the intervention of Webber the town guard, who had merely been guarding the rear and observing, that finally finished off the scaberous undead corpse beasts. By that time, the skeletons were beginning to shake off the effect of the Deacon's silver mandolin strings, and were approaching with rusty swords in their bony hands, so the able bodied remainder of the party hefted the inert bodies of their comrades and beat a hasty retreat back to the first room, where they barricaded the door and waited for the ghoul's uncanny paralysis to wear off.

It was decided that we would leave Klint and Melkior here as their injuries made them incapable of continuing. (This was fine with Klint because his player was absent, so he was in henchman mode for this session.) Früdje was well enough to wield his sword in his off hand, merely losing the 1 point AC benefit of his shield. I think the Deacon used his cure light wounds on the paladin to give him a better lead on his hit points. Our main purpose in going back was to retrieve the ghouls' heads for the bounties, as well as the skulls of the skeletons, which being the weakest form of undead would be easy enough for us to kill even weakened as we were. We negotiated with Webber about bearing witness on the skeleton and ghoul heads we'd fought a few days ago, even if he hadn't been there to see them animate, and he agreed on condition that he got a share of the bounty. Grudgingly, the party agreed, and off we went.

Thus fortified, the group set out again and charged the skeletons, quickly reducing them to clattering bones with sword and staff blows. We then took a quick jaunt into the gambling den area where we found the re-killed skeleton and ghoul where we'd left them. Hastily taking the heads and popping them into Webber's notarized bag (I love that we brought a notary public down into a dungeon delve.), we went back to collect our comrades and got the h-e-double quarterstaffs out of there.

From there, we hied ourselves back to the Dying Minotaur and holed up for a few more days, allowing the Deacon time to accumulate enough Cure Light Wounds spells to set everybody's really bad injuries, and to let natural healing take its course as well. (As we were doing this, we'd quite forgotten that Amos' father had agreed to let us use his magic pool of healing if we needed it, a fact the young half elf reminded us of when we encountered him a couple days into our convalescence. D'oh! as the bard would say... Ah well, doesn't hurt not to abuse a privilege like that.)

Once we were back in fighting trim, we decided to go back down into the catacombs and check out some of the corridors we hadn't when we were fighting for our lives against the ghouls. We dragooned Webber into bringing his notary bag and coming with us, and also brought along Melkior, with his newly de-hocked sword. Thus far, the abomination slaying business had netted us 230 (by my estimation, we were getting 50 crowns per ghoul and 10 per skelly, and had killed four of the former and two of the latter. Or re-killed, anyway.)

The first place we checked when we went back down was the end of the corridor where the ghouls had been hiding, where a few chairs and a hearth occupied the end wall. After a brief search, we found a hidden door in the fireplace that led through to a small chamber whos' only feature was a small wooden box on the floor. Inside the box we found a velvet lining cushioning a potion of some sort, which we gave to Kooda to hold on to.

We then searched the chamber, and found another secret door across from the door in the fireplace. Feeling a bit edgy, we left the task of opening it and checking for traps to Klint, and all vacated the small chamber after tying our rope around his waist to pull him (or enough of a buriable corpse) out of danger should he be caught in the trap's area of effect. The thief did indeed detect a trap, but as he tried to disarm it he set it off, flooding the room beyond with some kind of gas. Not wanting to find out firsthand what the gas did, he turned on his heel and ran, and we slammed the fireplace door and left the area, hoping that time would dissipate the gas and give us a chance to go back there.

The group then proceeded to the gambling den, where we followed the corridor we had ignored in our fight with the ghoul and skeleton two sessions ago. As we headed back the tunnel, we found a crossroads, where the corpse of a huge, dog sized rat lay. Delving deeper, we found more and more sign of an infestation of the foul megarodents. We encountered a room full of baby rats, pinkies, the size of guinea pigs.

As we were surveying this horror, Webber cried out from the rear that he was being attacked, and sure enough he was being rushed by five giant rats, who leapt upon him and bit at him savagely with their sharp, chisel teeth. We encouraged Kooda to use his Sleep spell on the brutes, even though Webber was in the area effect. The spell was successful, and we simply woke the guardsman up, and then finished off the rats and popped their heads into the Lieutenant's notary sack, in case the town was paying a bounty on giant rats. (If they weren't, maybe we could sell 'em as bait to the fishermen for a couple pence at least.) We hadn't the heart to kill off the pinkies, so we simply pressed on.

We came to a crossroads, and decided to head straight, and eventually came to a large chamber where five of the giant rats had built a large nest out of branches and trash. The creatures charged us, hissing and biting. This time, we improved our tactics somewhat, letting Liam and Kooda attack with missiles (bow and thrown daggers) before laying into them with sword and staff. It was a rough fight that left us with a few rat bites (none of which, mercifully, left us infected with plague, a very real danger with such beasts) and five more rat heads in the bag. We searched the nest, and turned up a gold ring and a small red gem among the trash.

From there we went deeper into the maze, and found more rats, who fled into a rat sized hole in the wall after arrow fire killed one of their number. We stuffed the corpse into the hole to kind of block it, and then retraced our steps back to the crossroads, following another branch.

This led to another room with a rat's nest and several more of the beasts, which we dispatched fairly handily, although the details of it elude me. I do remember we found another dagger or something in the nest. There was an escape hole in this area too, which Liam decided to crawl down and explore with his elven ability to see in the dark. We tied the rope around his waist and sent him on his way, until the rope went taut with the tunnel stretching away ahead of him. He backed out finding nothing, and we went on our way.

I'm not remembering much more than that. I think the order of events and the battles with the rats are a little garbled in my memory. We threw a flask of oil and chased a bunch off at some point as well, maybe in the room with the pinkies, I'm not sure.

I do recall we searched behind another door in the gambling den room, and found a small chamber with a table, a rack of age warped spears, and a dartboard that had a mysterious map of some wizard's living quarters with directions to a stash of magic items behind a picture on the wall. It was as old as the complex, so we were unsure as to when and if the raid the map was a part of had long since been carried out. I'm not sure if we searched this room before or after the tunnel complex with the giant rats, I'm thinking after since I think it was about this time we knocked off.

All told, another good session. It's amazing how much you can get done in old school play. All of this activity, a bit of roleplay, some hiring negotiation, and at least four fights, all in the span of three hours or less. Compared to the slog of 3rd. edition play, it's really refreshing. I'm really looking forward to next week, and also to get some of my own DM'ing projects off the ground.

Other take aways: Our tactics are improving. We're learning how to co-ordinate our attacks and coming up with plans, which is a good deal. Also, once again ghouls are proving to be an alpha predator for first level parties. They're modest enough by way of attacks, damage, and AC, but that paralysing touch is n-n-nasty. Plus they've got 2 hit dice, which means they have a bit of staying power if your dice aren't hot. Long story short, I hates me some ghouls. Lookin' forward to the day when I get a D (for instant DESTROY) on the turning table. For now, though, I'm content to scare 'em off with my mandolin and whack 'em with my stick. Varmints...

Anyhow, thanks again, DH, and all my fellow players in the 10d Gamers group for another enjoyable session.


  1. Another excellent synopsis sir. If I may, I'd like to point out one minor correction as I fear if I don't the mistake will stick and lead to confusion. The name of the town is Restenford, not Westenford. A minor quibble, but the town is in fact along the southern coast of the continent, and I'd worry that calling it Westenford would lead to an incorrect assumption that little if anything lies to the West.

    On the opposite end, I have no idea how you came up with the name "The Red Keg" for Falco's Tavern, but Falco tells me he is quite taken with the name and intends to keep it. I even saw him painting one of the large casks behind the bar bright red, and informing his patrons that the fine vintage it contains will cost an extra schilling per tankard.

  2. The red makes it go down faster.

    Now that you name it properly, I also have no idea where "The Red Keg" came from. Just sounded right. I'd forgotten Falco, surprisingly, since now I recall trying to make a "Rock Me Amadeus" joke sometime while we were there...