Sunday, December 21, 2014

Idalium Game 7: Whoa, Your Head's on Fire

Session date: Monday, December 15, 2014
Game date: Saturday, December 15, 207 to December 17, 207

Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 1, hp 5, xp 1509/2000
Tyrriel, Elf 1, hp 3, xp 1424/4000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 1, hp 3, xp 292/2200
Caryatid, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 1349/2500
Vito Aneti, Thief 1, hp 6, xp 852/1200

Wilhelm, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 681/2500
Twiffle, Elf 1, hp 1, xp 681/4000
Wilson, Thief 1, hp 1, xp 340/1200
Ylil, Thief 1, hp 3, xp 306/1200

Another full house of players, though one had to attend via speakerphone because he was stuck at home waiting for a boiler repairman who never bothered to show up. Brother Jibber and Sprat had failed morale checks after their last adventurers, but Ylil returned from a few weeks of alternative employment, and Caryatid decided to employ both Ylil and Wilson for this venture into the dungeon.

Ylil brought with him news that the thieves' guild had received a notice from some rich old lady offering a reward for the reward of some valuables that had been stolen by the renegade thieves in the undercity, and some of the former members of Cretch's gang were very interested in pursuing this opportunity. The group had "liberated" a matching crystal goblet and platter from Cretch's mansion, and had been keeping it in their storeroom with the thought of eventually finding the proper owner, assuming it would be too difficult to fence in the city.

So, perhaps urged on by the thought of bandits with a grudge coming after them to reacquire their treasure, the group decided to follow up on this reward themselves. Ylil had been given the name of a very fancy "wine bar" in the ritzy quarter of the city, where they were to inquire after the reward. The group made a cursory attempt to spruce up their appearance a little, and then made their way into the nice part of town. A grand plaza stretched out in front of the Great Cathedral of the All-Pervading Light (inside of which Brother Jibber was busy helping with preparations for the upcoming winter solstice holiday), and the plaza was surrounded by mansions, government buildings, expensive shops, etc. The group felt decidedly out of place here.

They found the wine bar, and a snooty maître d' sat them in the back of the restaurant. They ordered expensive wine, cheese, and charcuterie. When asked about the message, the maître d' sent a runner to fetch a man named Roger, who turned out to be the butler of Baroness Millicent Trenevant. He set up an appointment between Lady Trenevant and the party for later that afternoon.

Lady Millicent Trenevant
Arriving at the mansion of the Baroness, they found it to be a grand city estate, though somewhat run down around the edges. They were shown into the sitting room where Lady Trenevant (played by Maggie Smith, in my mind) met with them. Hers was one of the "founding families" of the new city of Idalium, and though Idalium is a mercantile city where the business class wields a great amount of political power, these families still hold an enormous amount of authority in the highest social circles of the city.

Lady Trenevant identified the goblet and platter that were burgled from her house, interjecting some choice bits of disdain for the thieves' guild. "What's the point of me making all these monthly payments if they can't live up to their promises to protect me from common thievery?" The group delivered the items to her, and she had Roger fetch them a pouch containing forty platinum minas as their reward. "It is good to know that the nobility can still count on the loyalty of the working classes." I think a few of the PCs had to smile through gritted teeth after that one.

At this point it was late in the day, so they returned to the Rusty Lantern early the next morning to delve once again into the buried city. Having dealt with the knockers, they tossed around a few ideas for what to focus on in this session, eventually deciding to perhaps check out the garden area behind the mansion Cretch had been using, and checking out a few of the other rooms and halls on their way.

Descending into the ancient city, the group retraced a familiar path through the tavern and kitchen off of the city square, and then stopped in the courtyard containing the small statue of a smiling chef that they had puzzled over some weeks ago. The statue held a tray inscribed with the Ancient Idalian words, "Your generosity is appreciated!" Tyrriel tried offering an old Idalian gold piece that she had been hanging on to, but still there was no apparent effect. They decided to investigate the building connected to the courtyard, and Tod shouldered the stuck door open.

Beyond the door, a dim red light pervaded an abandoned kitchen. Five giant beetles were crawling through the rubble, the glands on their heads and abdomens providing the strange red glow. For the moment, the beetles seemed to ignore the party, but then from a doorway across the room emerged a horrid, shriveled gnome-like creature, with more lurking behind it. The knockers stood in the doorway, scowling at the adventurers. Gulleck cursed the knockers in their own language with the rudest words he knew in that warped tongue, and then someone sent an arrow whizzing over the backs of the beetles, wounding the knocker in front. The knockers hissed at the party and retreated into the dark, and the beetles suddenly became aggressive, rustling towards the door with mandibles clacking. The group quickly backed up and Tod pulled the door shut. As they regrouped in the courtyard behind the building, a dozen knockers came running at them out of the dark, having flanked the group. Tod was stabbed viciously by one of them. Gulleck charged into the fray, hacking at the monstrosities with his axe. With the help of two Sleep spells, the knockers were soon routed, and a couple of survivors ran back the way they came, but were chased down and slain as they ran.

Tod was badly injured, and although the group had barely explored anything in the dungeon, they decided to retreat to the surface and rest for the remainder of the day. Tod slept with the pillow that Quazzle had been using, and found that he woke up remarkably refreshed and energizing (it allowed him to heal an extra hit point per day of rest). Pleased at the powers of this "pillow +1", the group - now fully healed - again descended into the dungeon. They quickly searched the rooms they had found the fire beetles and knockers in, and found a small amount of silver and gold coins, and in the front counter of an abandoned cafe, Vito found an intriguing pair of glass spectacles that allowed him to read Ancient Idalian writing as easily as if it were written in Common.

Proceeding along the back alley, they entered another house, finding themselves in a dark hallway with an open door some forty feet away, from which case flickering lamplight and nervous voices. Vito crept forward to investigate. Lurking at the edge of the doorway, he could hear hushed voices arguing. "Oh, if we can find someone up top to fence this with, he won't have to work another day for months!" "But where can we sell it? Oh, I wish Cretch were still around. He was a jerk but at least he always knew what to do..."

Vito briefly contemplated attempting to mimic Cretch's voice, to startle or scare these bandits, but decided that plan was too risky. Instead, he carefully and quietly poured a flask of oil onto the floor at the threshold of the door, leaving it slick and slippery. He quietly beckoned the rest of the group to join him. They attempted to creep up as quietly as possible, but with several of them in plate mail, there were a few creaks and clanks...

"Shh! What's that noise? Go check it out..." A man dressed in leather armor, carrying a sword and a lantern, came cautiously out of the room and jumped in surprise at seeing himself nearly surrounded by grim-faced adventurers. He stumbled in the pool of oil at his feet but managed to keep his balance. But then Wilhelm spoke the words of the Sleep spell, and he fell, with the lantern, into the oil.

There was some discussion at the table over how likely the lamp would be to just go out upon hitting the ground, versus igniting the oil. Caryatid's player said, "Come on, in all the movies it would just go up like 'whooof'!" So I offered a 2 in 6 chance for the lantern to break open and ignite the oil, the players agreed that seemed reasonable, and lo and behold, the die came up with a 2.

If he was asleep for a few moments, the bandit was awake now, screaming in pain and terror as the flames roared up around him. He rolled on the floor desperately trying to prevent the fire from igniting his clothes and hair. Two other bandits rushed to the doorway to see what was happening. "Holy $#%@!" they exclaimed as they saw their comrade on fire on the ground, surrounded by strange people with weapons drawn. They lunged at Gulleck with their swords, but they were hindered by the pool of flaming oil in front of them, and their thrusts fell short.

Tyrriel put a lethal arrow into the chest of one of the bandits in the doorway. I think Vito's player was feeling actual guilt over the poor sap on fire, and put him out of his misery with a crossbow bolt.

"Well," mused Tod's player, "this certainly got a lot more murderous than usual really fast."

The four remaining bandits in the room completely failed a morale check at this point, and their swords went clattering to the floor as their hands shot up above their heads. "Oh, God! Please don't kill us! Please don't set us on fire!"

The party quickly bound the hands of the bandits, and liberated them of the treasure they had been discussing: four beautiful pieces of jewelry worth about 4,000 gold darics altogether. They escorted the bandits back to the Rusty Lantern, and handed them over to the thieves' guild for their usual reward. And then they returned to celebrate their very successful expedition!

Gaining experience in B/X is really all about finding the jewelry, and the players were quite lucky to stumble upon these bandits with their somewhat disproportionately valuable treasure. I really don't mind the "swinginess" of the random treasure tables - I think they contribute to an exciting style of game where you never quite know when you will strike it rich. And strike it rich they did, with both Tod and Vito earning enough experience to go up to level 2! Tod rolled the maximum roll of 8 for his hit points, and Vito has an 18 constitution, so even though he rolled a 1 on his d4, it was still enough to nearly double his current hit point amount. Both of them are now guaranteed to be able to survive at least one hit with a sword, which may seem a bit funny, but in by-the-book D&D it's quite a bit deal to no longer carry that constant fear of dying from a single hit. A major milestone for these two players!

(Of course, the gallows humor at the table was that now everyone will get cocky and reckless...)

No comments:

Post a Comment