Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Playing in the Sandbox II

Last night we played my Classic D&D game at the board game group again. It had been a month or so since the last game. Due to final tests this week, Lucy, Robin and Erika couldn't come. Josh is still in Canada, and Steve and Alex couldn't make it. Miyeong said she would come, but got out of work late so couldn't make it after all. That left Pat, Chloe, and Dave, besides myself.

I was a bit disorganized, since I'd had to rush out of the radio station (yeah, I'm on the radio here in Busan) and home to eat dinner, help my wife with a few Christmas cards, play with the baby a bit, then off to games all within an hour! I forgot to bring my 'monster book' but didn't need it, and forgot my 'box of rumors' as well. Dave had the only new character and Pat and Chloe were content to follow up rumors they'd already gathered, so we didn't need it after all either.

Dave finished rolling up his Elf, while Pat (playing his Cleric and Fighter, both level 2 now) and Chloe (playing her Illusionist level 1) did some stuff around town. They decided they'd follow up the rumor that a valuable pendant could be found in the Dread Mausoleum. They thought about following up on information about the sword Chrysaor, but decided to wait until Lucy was back to do anything with that.

They first went to the local Dwarven drinking establishment, and got a somewhat cool reaction. They were introduced to a pair of stupidly drunk Dwarves who it was said could help them, but they decided to not bring the boasting pair along because they were drunk, rude, and wanted shares of treasure (I would have let them get in for only 1/2 shares if offered, but the group decided they were strong enough).

Dave's Elf joined them, and they got some information about the Mausoleum--where it was, roughly, and that to the best knowledge of the local Sun priestess, it was very old and haunted by 'demons' or so the superstitous peasants told her. Undaunted, they bought rations and set out for the day's march to the Mausoleum. On the way, they encountered some giant tiger beetles, but evaded them successfully. They couldn't find the Mausoleum in the dead woods on that first night, so they retreated back across a stream and camped for the night.

The next morning they finally found the place. The actual mausoleum was a slate structure, with a large stagnant pool with a non-functioning fountain in front, and a smaller structure to the back (they couldn't make it out at first because of the trees). Going to the secondary structure first, they found an altar to the Serpent of Chaos, surrounded by a pair of devil statues, on a stone platform. They thought about desecrating the altar, but then thought they'd better not yet in case demons really were around!

Next, they checked out the pool, which was home to a Gray Ooze. They beat the ooze without any major losses (Pat's fighter lost his shield--a Save vs. Wands successfully kept it from disolving his chainmail!), and drained the pool, locating a small gem.

They went in the Mausoleum, and found it had seven plain stone sarcophogi, 3 on each side and one at the far end, flanked by statues. There was also a trap door in the floor. They avoided the sarcophogi and statues, other than a cursory examination to see if there was any writing on them (none), then opened up the trap door (after checking for traps--they checked every door for traps, I'll just skip writing that from now on). They dropped down a torch, and saw a corridor at the bottom, 40' below. They secured their rope to a statue, and dropped it down, then climbed down--Dave's Elf first, to use infravision.

The tunnel went north and south, and they went north first. They quickly came to a large crypt, with alcoves stuffed with bones to east and west, and noticed giant bats hanging from the ceiling and starting to stir because of the torch light. They quickly retreated, with the Elf sticking around quietly to see if they went back to sleep with infravision (they did).

Going south, the corridor split in a Y shape, and they went SE first, to a door. Opening it, they got the jump on a trio of living corpses. Thinking they were zombies, they attacked. Mistake! They were ghouls!

The Fighter, Elf and Cleric all charged, while the Illusionist threw a javelin. I made a mistake of my own, though. I didn't hear Pat say his Cleric and Fighter were attacking the same one, so I assumed they were going after different ones. The Fighter and Elf each took a ghoul down to 1 hit point, and the Cleric hit as well. If I'd heard Pat, one ghoul would have been down. As it was, in the first real round the Cleric got paralyzed, and the other two wounded. They managed to kill the two severely wounded ones, but the Fighter was also paralyzed, and the Illusionist and Elf killed. TPK.

But then when Pat pointed out my mistake, I asked if they wanted to replay the combat. They said sure. (Screw narrativism--besides, how many times does Simon Belmont die before he gets to Dracula?) In the second battle, with only two ghouls, they did better. The Fighter got paralyzed again, but the Cleric turned one, and they finished off the third. They debated what to do with the ghoul cringing in a corner, but when they saw that the two they killed had jewelry, and so did the one they turned, they decided to finish it off. They got the jewelry and headed back out to rest up.

They camped across the stream for a few nights to get everyone back on their feet, having an encounter with a band of sprites who were charmed by the Elf (rolled high on reactions) and gave the party some giant bee honey. Rested up, they went back to the Mausoleum and took the south-west tunnel.

Down that path, they found another room with sarcophogi, but these were all carved in effigy of the people entombed. The last one had the inscription "Heroes take what they may." Opening that sarcophogus, they found the remains of a magician (spellbook rotted and worthless), with a silver dagger and a potion bottle. They decided not to disturb the remains of the other dead, and opened a door in the room. Inside, they found a 10x10 room full of treasure.

Thinking that was suspicious, Chloe decided her Illusionist would try to see through any illusions--she gets a +2 bonus on saves, which she made. Everyone else tried a save when she told them it was an illusion and failed, but they listened to her and shut the door.

They didn't find the pendant they were looking for, but they had found some loot and were running low on rations so they headed back to town, got the jewelry appraised (and were surprised that the 3 torques the ghouls wore were each worth 1200gp!), and got their experience points.

Pat's guys both leveled up again, so they'll be level 3 while everyone else is level 2 (although next time we play Josh should be back, and his characters are both on the cusp of level 2).

All in all, except for the miscommunication leading to a TPK, it was a good night.


  1. Ghouls - nasty things, what with their 3 attacks and paralysation. Some think that they're a good monster for 1st levellers to take on but I found out that they are perhaps a little too nasty for that.

    I threw eight of them into the Training dungeon that I am running for my son and because he is inexperienced and only 6 and a half, he neglected to try and turn them as they rushed in. The party was overwhelmed. Six characters died, only two survived and that's because they ran, leaving the hobbit cleric surrounded and his Protection from Evil spell running out.

    Funny thing is that he ran from zombies as his first instinct. Mind you, the zombies now have a zombie ogre (MM2) leading them, so that's probably a wise move.

  2. Yeah, ghouls are pretty tough for the low level guys. Even for mid-level guys they can be a threat in large enough numbers (or mixed in with some zombies or skeletons which will get turned first!)

    But since this is a sandbox game, I've just populated it as I see fit, and it's up to them to scout out things and judge what they can handle and what they can't.

    The party had surprise on the ghouls, but thought they were only zombies and attacked, thinking that the cleric could turn them if things didn't go well. Whoops!