Caverns of Thracia, part 1
Players: J and M.
Since this was the first session, chargen came first. Both rolled up 5 characters and picked one of them as a primary and two as backups.
M rolled up Uz’el, a mage versed in the Black Lore of Zahar. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t aiming at a necromancer — but that was the template he rolled. :)
J ended up with Rolf the Footpad.
On their way to Great Mitylene a bunch of adventurers who had tried to rob them — from whose possessions our heroes discovered a map to the Lost City of Thracia, and the address of a sage in Mitylene. It turned out the sage offered good money for Thracian artifacts, so it was decided an expedition was in order. Two henchman, Pius and Rojah, are hired as reinforcements. …well, maybe not so much hired, as lured to follow them on promises of gold to come.
[This part wasn’t played — that was simply the setup.]
Being the prudent sort Uz’el and Rolf asked around a bit before heading out. Many locals had heard of Ancient Thracia, but not a great deal of useful information — but Uz’el turned out to be surprisingly fluent at the primitive dialect of Common the local jungle tribes speak.
Taking their time on the road, two days later white marble peeks out from the jungle. The Lost City of Thracia! Rolf climbs a tree and spies a few buildings whose foundations seem at least partially intact, whereas most of the city is nothing but rubble. He also glimpses a humanoid moving about.
Since sun is about to set they make camp in the jungle instead risking facing humanoids at night. Night passes tensely but uneventfully. Next morning they cautiously approach the ruins.
In the first building they come across they discover a wax tablet — which cannot have been there for more than a week at most — with Dwarven runes on it. Neither of them can read it, unfortunately.
Sneaking further on, they spot four gnolls apparently keeping guard on top of the marble foundation of an ancient temple. Rolf cycles around the long way, and approaches the temple from the opposite direction. He is nearly caught out, not by the gnolls but by tribesmen hiding in the remains of another building. They seems to be covertly watching the gnolls as well, and keeping out of sight.
Rolf waits and observes, and finally five tribesmen sneak out, one by one. Possibly hunters? He approaches the building after they’ve gone, and spies what looks like a shaman keeping an eye on the gnolls. The shaman ducks deeper inside the ruin and doesn’t re-appear. Rolf edges closer and discovers that a staircase descends underground from the back of the ruin. He listens, and faintly hears a short exchange of words from below — but cannot make out what is being said, or even what language is being spoken.
Some time later Rolf has fetched Uz’el and the henchmen to join him, taking a looong way around the structure the gnolls appear to be guarding. Rojah is sent ahead the stairs to scout, and is directed to light a torch once well inside. Everyone is worried about alerting the gnolls to their presence.
Torch lit, the others descend as well. Below they find that the floor has collapsed — possibly in an earthquake — turning a section of the tunnel into a wide cavern. A rope bridge made of lianas and bits of wood stretches across the gap. The bridge splits into two along the way, going straight ahead and to the right. Rojah is once again sent ahead to scout. When he’s in the middle of the bridge two giant bats descend from the ceiling of the cavern and attack him! They fray is joined, and while Uz’el almost falls of the bridge as a bat strikes him they are victorious and survive mostly intact.
Having bandaged their wounds they take the right fork of the bridge, discover a short tunnel, another rope bridge, and another tunnel… however, this tunnel has torches illuminating it. Proceeding slowly and cautiously our heroes round a corner, and see the tunnel opening into a room divided by heavy black curtains. Rolf hears a sound of metal on metal, followed by a sharpish “Shhh!”.
Everyone deduces someone is trying to ambush them. In a tactical conference it is decided that they should torch the curtains with oil, and try to gain the upper hand. Rolf throws a flask of oil with a burning rag stuffed to it on the floor before the curtains, which startles a guard, who had been hiding behind the corner, out of concealment — giving Rolf the opportunity to backstab him. Unfortunately the tribesman is wearing second-hand (third hand?) plate mail decorated with bones, which is enough to divert the attack.
From beyond the curtain what sounds very much like an order to attack is heard.
Rolf manages to retreat back the hallway, and Rojah and Pius engage the guard. And the other three heavily armored warriors who emerge from beyond the burning curtain. While the henchmen hold the line Rolf and Uz’el retreat behind the rope-bridge, ready to cut it. Rojah and Pius do their best to join them, but Pius falls to enemy blows. Rojah manages to cross the bridge just as Uz’el and Rolf cut it. Unfortunately the warrior chasing Rojah throws his spear, hitting Rojah and taking him down.
Uz’el and Rolf retreat towards daylight while dragging Rojah’s unconscious form, dodging past a bat that attacks them in the earlier cavern. Once in the relative safety of the ruined building Rojah is examined and found to be alive, but in a bad shape.
The long trek back to Mitylene begins — made even longer by Rojah moving half-speed. Unfortunately Rojah succumbs to a mysterious fate before they reach civilization. Jungles are full of dangerous things…
Back in Mitylene Rolf and Uz’el sell Rojah’s meager belongings and plot their next move. Clearly a larger force is needed to penetrate the caverns.
That went pretty nicely, I think. Not the greatest session I’ve ever run by any measure, but not the poorest either. :)
Character creation took a lot longer than I expected, but mostly because both made several characters. I think I may want reconsider the bulk-creation.
OD&D stats are easy to convert to ACKS even on the fly. There were a couple of things that almost went wrong — mechanically speaking — but no real hitches. Not entirely sure I like the way ACKS does to-hit rolls, but it isn’t horrible either. J hates it, though.
Not having run a dungeon crawl in years and years and years it was interesting to discover which bits of my prep turned out to be needed, and which did not. Things that would have been useful but weren’t handy were few and far between, though, luckily. I’ll need to think on this a bit more, though. I’m sure I can do better…
Very different from the very character oriented fare I’m used to. Not in a bad way. Just … very different.
Both M and J are long time gamers, and J especially is an old hand in old-school style play. I really dug the cautious play style. M never cast any spells, because the situation didn’t seem dire enough, I guess. Though I do think things might have gone differently if Sleep had been one of his spells.
Next game: next Sunday, with 5 players. Will be interesting!