Session date: Monday, November 3, 2014
Game date: Saturday, November 3, 207
Tod, Fighter 1, hp 5
Tyrriel, Elf 1, hp 3
Quazzle, Magic-user 1, hp 1
Caryatid, Magic-user 1, hp 4
Vinnie De Veru, Thief 1, hp 5
Brother Mookie, Cleric 1, hp 5
Wilhelm, Magic-user 1, hp 4
Twiffle, Elf 1, hp 1
Ylil, Thief 1, hp 3
Vito Aneti, Thief 1, hp 6
Last Monday, we got together for the first session of the Idalium campaign. Five players were able to attend, and I had them roll up two sets of ability scores (3d6 in order) and pick one for their PC and one for their (initial) retainer. Character generation took a lot longer than I expected, partly because I had to explain many of the rules as we went along, so the players could make informed decisions, and also because it seems like everyone rolled well for their starting gold, and shopping for equipment took a long time. I ran a convention game a couple of months ago where we had fighters in leather armor and thieves in “civvies” because they couldn’t afford any better. This time, everyone who could wear plate mail did so, and several of the characters are equipped with bows.
It’s an interesting mix of classes, with only one human fighter among the ten characters and just the one cleric retainer. Between the magic-users and elves, the party has three Sleep spells, a Charm Person spell, and a Shield spell at their disposal.
After we had finished rolling up characters, we had about half the session left for the party’s first expedition into the ruins of the old city of Idalium. In a tavern called the Rusty Lantern, a discreet organization calling itself the Adventurer’s Guild has sprung up around the exploration of the ruins. The Rusty Lantern is a "private club" – the only people allowed in are those vouched for by a current member of the Guild, at the risk of their expulsion. The PCs and their retainers were vouched for by a mutual acquaintance named Reggie (a good natured fellow who was adventuring with another NPC party), and entered the tavern.
In the tavern, a Guild spokesman gave them a rundown of the basic rules ("Rule #1 of Adventurer’s Guild is you do not talk about Adventurer’s Guild"). The Guild takes a 10% cut of all treasure retrieved from the ruins, in exchange for access to the various services provided by the Guild. Not least of these services is access to the trapdoor in the cellar of this tavern that leads down to the abandoned streets of old Idalium. In addition, the Guild provides adventurers with a secure place to store their weapons and armor, so they don’t cause disturbances walking through the city streets outfitted for war, and a secure place to deposit their wealth. (These are all contrivances to simplify episodic dungeon delving for us as players.)
The players observed another NPC party celebrating, having just returned from a successful delve, and then proceeded into the cellar to venture into the dungeon. In a side room downstairs, a couple of men sat at a table near the open trapdoor. There was a block and tackle system rigged above the hatch, along with a winch. ("For hauling up a big heavy treasure chest, if you’re lucky. Or a body, if not so lucky!") The guards charged the party a fee of gold daric each and then lowered a rope ladder and the party descended.
Passing through 10 feet or so of scaffolding and bracing, the group climbed down the ladder to find themselves in an old storeroom, full of boxes and crates of rotten grain, etc. A small staircase led down to the back room of a shop. This building contained many indications of frequent travel: footprints in the dust, bits of discarded torch stubs and so on, chalk notes on doors ("This way to the town square"). Eventually, the party passed through the front door of the shop and found themselves on a wide avenue. Looking up, they could just see at the edge of their lantern light the planks and bracing timbers that supported the new city some 30’ above them.
The group explored a few shops along the avenue, choosing not to investigate a large pile of discarded paper that rustled when their light fell upon it, nor a door beyond which they heard agitated squeaking. They turned down a side alley and entered the back door of what appeared to have once been a wealthy house, with a large atrium containing a decorative pool and an open skylight above it, and several rooms off of the central atrium. In the kitchen of this house, the magic-user Wilhelm disturbed a nest of foot long centipedes, but managed to sedate them with a Sleep spell before they could injure him. Vito (who had grown up poor and by necessity creative about his meals) bagged up the giant centipede carcasses for the next few days’ dinners.
Continuing their exploration, the group frightened off a pack of giant rats, and timidly tiptoed past a flock of bizarre creatures that seemed a cross between birds and anteaters. Crossing another wide avenue, they entered a second house with a similar layout. Here they found what they took to be the same flock of stirges returned to roost in one of the bedrooms, and carefully closed the door on them.
As they were discussing their options, one of the doors opened, and a tiny little man emerged, looking at them quizzically. He wore a colorful tunic and conical hat, and had a long white beard. Vinnie cheerfully offered him some wine, and the gnome quickly warmed up to these explorers, and invited them in to share some snacks with his companions.
There were about six of them, all dressed in different colored caps and hoods. They had a picnic blanket spread out on the floor of the bedroom and were eating tiny little meat pies and crumb cakes. ("Oh, they’re adorable!" said one of the players. "We can’t possibly kill them and take their stuff now!") The leader of the group of gnomes, who said his name was Pluck Fimple, told the adventurers that the gnomes were taking a break from their work in the mines to do some exploring of the city, but they had taken shelter in this room from the stirges. He indicated that the mines were beyond the back door of this house, and suggested that if the party did go there, to stop by and meet his boss, a gnome named Tom Pipkin. Perhaps the party could be of assistance to the gnomes with some trouble they were having with the "knockers", vaguely described by Pluck as evil spirits of the underground who frequently caused trouble for the gnomes and stole their gold.
After their cordial picnic with the gnomes, the adventurers decided it was time to return to the surface, so they retraced their steps back to the trapdoor back to the Rusty Lantern. The guys on duty at the top of the hatch counted the number of surviving party members as they climbed out, and with a disappointed shake of the head, one handed over a couple of silver shekels to the other.
As the group entered the tavern upstairs, a cheer went up from the other regulars, and Ralph the tavernkeeper called for them to tally up their haul, so the Guild could take its 10%. Vito hesitated with the sack he was carrying, but Ralph urged him on. "Come on, rules are rules, let’s see what you’ve got!" Vito handed over the sack of beheaded centipede corpses, and Ralph peered inside, then cleared his throat and said, "Well, since you guys are new here, we’ll waive the Guild’s cut for your first time out!"