Sunday, January 11, 2015

Idalium Game 8: Ramble On

Session date: Monday, January 5, 2015
Game date: Saturday, January 5, 208

Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 2, hp 14, xp 2096/4000
Tyrriel, Elf 1, hp 3, xp 1938/4000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 1, hp 3, xp 830/2200
Caryatid, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 1887/2500
Vito Aneti, Thief 2, hp 10, xp 1391/2400

Brother Jibber, Cleric 1, hp 5, xp 699/1500
Wilhelm, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 939/2500
Twiffle, Elf 1, hp 1, xp 939/4000
Ylil, Thief 1, hp 3, xp 552/1200
Sprat, Thief 1, hp 3, xp 208/1200

After a hiatus of two missed sessions, first due to holiday travel and then due to multiple players with colds and sore throats, we finally got the group back together in the New Year. As I had kind of expected, the long break led to a less focused session with more chit-chat than usual. That's OK, the game is first and foremost a social event, and though the actual explorations in the dungeon were rather aimless and not terribly monumental, there were plenty of laughs and everyone seemed to have a good time.

When we left off, the players had recovered a number of valuable pieces of jewelry from some bandits in the ruins, and there was some chatter about finding more rich people who might reward them for the return of their jewelry, but nobody seemed to come up with a plan except the obviously terrible one of showing up on people's doorsteps and asking "Are these expensive things yours?" So they opted for the old standby of heading right back down into the dungeon again.

In the Rusty Lantern, they took note of an advertisement that was being passed around: "Attention brave and bold explorers of Ancient Idalium: I will pay handsomely for any and all records and documents of historical interest. Signed, Professor R. Zinn".

"Hey, Tyrriel, you can write in Ancient Idalian, can't you?" Such scoundrels, these players are!

The group decided to continue exploring the rooms that they had been in last week, and head towards the big bathhouse across from Cretch's mansion that they had seen several times now but never entered. Last session, they had met another party of adventurers in the Rusty Lantern, a friendly group called St. Dwindum's Heroes, who had told them that there is a stairway in the bathhouse that leads to the next level of the dungeon.

They descended into the undercity and returned to the house where they had last been. As Tod opened the door, the reek of recent decay washed over them, and there where they had left them were the bodies of the two bandits, now looking quite a bit worse for the wear, chewed up but also strangely dessicated looking. The door off of the hall to the south was ajar, and Gulleck poked a head around it, hoping to use his infravision to his advantage.

Unfortunately, the dice decided that he was surprised by the 10 stirges that live in that room, and furthermore I rolled a perfect 2 (immediate attack) on their reaction check. Here I have to admit that I got a bit overexcited and rolled four attacks which killed poor Gulleck instantly. But then I remembered that he was only poking his head around the narrow gap in the doorway, which ought to provide cover. I hate "retconning" things like this, and I don't want to give my players the impression that I am ever pulling punches or fudging the dice. For me, a significant part of the spirit of this kind of low-level old school play is that the tension and danger feels "real", that there is no safety net. But giving it a second thought, I really did feel he deserved to get the cover from the door and that he wouldn't have been attacked by as many stirges as I first thought. So I rerolled the attacks for just two stirges, applying a cover modifier, and this time they both missed Gulleck, and he quickly pulled the door shut and backed away (this has really become this party's signature move!). The angry stirges beat at the door with their wings and scratched with their claws.

While the party was exploring the apartment to the north, where the bandits had been, a group of knockers appeared in the doorway back to the hall, blinking their dull eyes and scowling. Gulleck screamed a war cry and charged them, and Vito again fired his loaded crossbow directly into the forehead of one of the creatures. The surviving knockers fled without even returning the attack.

In another apartment, Brother Jibber finally had the opportunity to take center stage, as the party was attacked by animated skeletons, and his faith held them at bay while the rest of the party dispatched them from a distance with ease. Later, Jibber's curiosity almost cost him his life. The group had found a small shrine full of grotesquely carved figurines. Even though a skeleton lay on the floor clutching one of the figurines, Brother Jibber boldly picked one of them up. Pain seared through him as though his life was being drawn out through his arm. I think he took 3 points of damage (out of his 5 hit points total). It could easily have been lethal had he rolled worse.

The group found the bathhouse and made a very brief foray inside, only to be scared away by a group of giant bees. (These never fail to produce an amused discussion of where the underground bees are managing to find flowers.) They ran back out of the bathhouse and opted for a large manor house next to Cretch's mansion.

In the manor, they found a trio of enormous lizards, sleeping peacefully in the kitchen. Wilhelm decided to cast Sleep on them to make absolutely sure they didn't wake up. In the rooms of the manor, they found an intriguing hand mirror that shows you the back of your head when you look in it. (Of course, one of my players immediately set to work testing the parameters of this. "What happens if you stand against a wall and look in it?" Every group has a player like this, don't they?)

So, all in all, a rather uneventful but still entertaining evening. I think I may introduce a "questgiver" next session to offer them a bit more direction (should they choose to take the hook) and nudge them towards the more interesting places remaining on the first level.

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