I spent the week prepping AD&D, so we could play A2 Secret of the Slavers Stockade. But it needs nine characters to be run, and we ended up with four players. One player was very enthusiastic to play AD&D. Another, less so, because running multiple characters isn't really his thing. After some discussion, it was clear that the way to go was to play the Cold Fens, and do a scouting/exploring mission. Exploration of a lot of new areas (10+ hexes) would be easily done and net 2 xp even if no loot was found . . . and the PCs really want to know the current status of Sakatha's Tomb.
So we last-minute switched to that. I literally had both games queued up to play and then just started running DF.
Game Date: 6/27/2021 - 7/3/2021
Galen Longtread, human scout (498 points)
Heyden, human knight (308 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (343 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (354 points)
The group gathered at Ulf Hollow, and set out in a boat after gathering up all of the paut, healing potions, and rations they could.
They worked their way south from Ulf Hollow and took the first SE passage they could. That ended up a mistake - it slowly turned NE and then N. They reversed course.
They explored further south and then southwest and then southeast. This took a couple days of travel, mostly using Sanctuary at night after a pair of leaping leeches sucked 4 HP of blood out of Wyatt's face before he could smash them bare-handed. Otherwise they mostly dealt with insects ranging from nuisances (loss of some FP) to lethal (loss of some HP) and once getting stalked by (probably) some shamblethorns.*
Eventually they reached a point where, come evening, wisps of strange fog came questing in from the SE. So did bats. Lots of bats. Bats that sure seemed to Wyatt (who rolled a 3 on his Per check) were looking for something. So they ducked into a Sanctuary (and I ruled they couldn't fit the boat in) and waited it out until morning. Ulf stayed awake with Vigil.
They sent Galen exploring overland for most of the next day, and found little except a fog-shrouded island to the SE. They camped not far from where they started after waiting out the day in the rain while Galen explored solo, and slept in a Sanctuary again.
The next day they landed on Sakatha's Island, and found the "dock" and the steps. They tied off their boat their and climbed up. Relying on the journal entries that described the place before, they sprinted past the watery murder nymphs. Ulf blasted one for 18 damage with a Sunbolt while on the run, but they otherwise avoided them. They did the coin-on-a-string trick, which Wyatt had read about, and went down through the trapdoor.
Once below, they systematically searched the whole place. Their map wasn't accurate, but even so, they covered the place and searched all they could. They found many signs of fierce battles, but not a corpse, coin, stitch of valuable clothing, or anything worth taking. Wyatt wanted to test doors to see if they could just be opened but Heyden kicked or shouldered or yanked them all open with Forced Entry without waiting.
In the end, even with See Secrets on for part of the exploration and Galen's expert eye, they found nothing new. Just "secret" doors that wouldn't open without some trick (unholy water, according to the journals), and that was that. Ulf tried to Dismissive Wave away the evil temple and failed utterly.
That done, they made their way back a new way and then to home. The only threat was a pony-sized frog that swam at them . . . Galen put three arrows at it, hit with two, it dodged one, and he did minimum damage (8 damage) to the skull . . . enough to knock it cold. They poled on home and left it behind.
- The PCs made it home just in time for July 4th, a day when people celebrate something with fireworks and fire spells for some reason.
- One hex had a random encounter with lethal insects and then had the same lethal insects encounter, totally at random, the next day. So I decided that's near a bunch of wasp's nests. So I labeled that hex. Avoid it, there are more wasps than you'd like there.
- Where were the bodies? Why were the doors closed? Good questions. Some of the bodies had become zombies or skeletons under Gerry's command. Others are just gone. The place was pretty thoroughly picked over by the PCs several times.
- MVP was Hayden for finding a Simpsons meme for every critical moment to paste into the Roll20 chatbox. So XP was 2 each for exploration, 0 xp for loot, +1 for Heyden. The lowest point PC out of this group is 308 points with 52 points saved. We'll see when "we're too weak to do that" runs down a bit with the lowest point guy soon to be 100 points above a starting PC.
- 2 xp from now, Galen will need $200,000 for 4 xp for loot, and $40,000 for 2 xp. So he'll likely insist on exploration (1 for a new place, 2 for 10+) all of the time. That's a positive to me. The old guard really will only benefit from a huge pile of loot or finding some new and interesting thing. That's why the 500+ point lord sends you lower-point guys out on quests. He can still get killed - the risk isn't any lower than before - but the reward is usually nothing at all. So YOU go do it, you new guys.
- Lots of fun today, even if the summary doesn't make it seem like it.
* Quote of the day, "Do they shamble? Like mounds would?" - Galen