Session 2 of the Otherness campaign happened on Sunday and, I must say, it went swimmingly. We had only three players to start with this time: Coffee and T.J. from last time, and my friend Larry, with whom I haven't gamed in far too long. In the last hour we were joined by another friend of mine, R.M. (no, I'm not trying to protect anyone's identities...), who brought along his 9 or 10 year-old son, Max. The players headed down Under Xylarthen's Tower (by the indefatigable Jeff Reints) and made a good run of it: everyone got out alive!
- Coffee and T.J. both attempted to retrieve their characters from the last Session by rolling on The Table of Despair, as found in Fight On! #3, since it seemed unlikely that that particular group would be reforming anytime soon. T.J.'s character Arp the Dwarf received a result of "You emerge unscathed!" and promptly became known as Arp the Lucky. Bahb the Draftee, however, was not so lucky; he was "Lost to time and space," with all that implies. Coffee shrugged it off, however, probably because he was eager to spring his new Balrog character race on me. :)
- Indeed, his well-thought-out race (which can be found written up here) was, unbeknownst to him, exactly the Hargrave route down which I'd been hoping to eventually head. The Spirit of ODD moved in the room and lo, Sneerglaw was born! A man-sized balrog complete with whip, sword and the ability to act as a walking torch headed down into the depths with a dwarf, an elf and four hirelings.
- This was actually the first time I've used hirelings, maybe ever. Arp hired two Fighting Men and Larry's elven character hired two elves functioning for this adventure as Fighting Men, though they were actually women. I had them roll a d6 to see what type of armor their respective flunkies had, and I rolled HP and Loyalty (pg. 13 of Men & Magic), modified by Charisma in Arp's case. We decided on weapons, including a bow for one of the elves, and we were ready to go.
- We also had the first actual play-test of The Devil's in the Details articles I wrote as a column for the first three issues of Fight On!. These tables help players flesh out the three core demi-human races, and T.J. rolled on them for Arp, while Larry used them for his elf, Nimfitz Niraxis. They seemed to work pretty well. Each ended up with some details that piqued their interest, which is just what I was hoping for. The one that got the most running commentary was Nimitz’s “Breeds new animals in pursuit of a singular vision.” Much possibility for future character activities…
- One of Arp’s hirelings, Dolph, managed to kill the giant snake in the first room (which then put smack-down on Sneerglaw in its death throes…) He immediately began referring to his spear as “Serpent Slayer”.
- Sneerglaw freaked out an enormous pack of giant rats by snaring one of their number with his whip and then toasting it as he immolated himself. He later got to cook a couple of giant centipedes as well. I think he also ate some orc thigh... Damn balrogs are almost as useful as a gelatinous cube...
- When joined by two new adventurers, Ballantine the Fighting Man and Redbeard the Dwarf (both detailed a couple of posts ago), played by R.M. and Max, respecitively, Redbeard almost immediately found a secret door. It consisted of nothing more than a shaft with a rope ladder descending into darkness, and they decided to leave it for later, but Max was quite pleased with himself. Almost as proud as in the next room when he quite probably saved Nifmitz from being a snack for a giant weasel by promptly chopping the beast in half. Guess we gotta let the new generation play a bit more often!
- Early on, the party discovered an oversized coffin, secured with chains and a padlock. After some deliberation, they decided to leave it alone. Later, as they walked towards the dungeon entrance, an exploratory band of eight orcs came trooping down the stairs right for them. Some words were exchanged, and as the leader of the orcs raised his weapon to charge, Nimfitz successfully charmed him. The rest of the orcs were understandably confused at their leader’s change of heart, but became more interested when Nimfitz mentioned huge box full of treasure that was chained shut in a nearby room. He admitted that he and his fellow elves and humans were “too weak to break it open”, but surmised that it’d be a snap for a few strapping orcs. The orcs agreed and, as they began working on the chains, the party surreptitiously blocked the door shut with a couple of spikes.
- The orcs did indeed break the chains, and something came out of the coffin. There was a terrible moaning, then much orc-screaming and pounding on shut doors. Then, suddenly, everything was silent. They listened at the door until they heard the coffin room’s far door creak open, pulled the spikes, dodged inside and checked out the coffin. Indeed, there was a decent treasure, including a very valuable golden necklace. They scooped it up in time to hear another door swinging open in the tense silence. Redbeard splashed out an oil flask on the floor of the previous room and tossed a torch on it. The burst of flame showed them an awful sight: An ogre who’d been turned into a wight, naked and bone-pale like some kind of gigantic nosferatu, staring at them over the flames. They did what any good first level adventurers would do: They ran like hell right out of the dungeon. And Larry got Nimfitz a 400 XP bonus (half of what eight orcs were worth) with the blessings of his fellow players.
Under Xylarthen’s Tower is a great adventure, full of oldskoolisms, and they’ve only just scratched the surface. I’m really beginning to see how even a single mega-dungeon could become the focal point of a whole campaign.
Again: Too. Much. Fun.