Monday, February 6, 2023

Deathstyles of the Lich and Famous

Time to craft up another play report for my eleven readers.

Small band of miscreants this week, as a couple of the usuals took the night off. And without Goober the wardog in attendance, I knew things were going to be touch and go.

Tonight's cast:

  • Fulvus, halfling
  • Mareth, elf 
  • Thayer, another elf

We started our scene with Fulvus and Mareth emerging from the crypt of Olaf the Black, slightly singed from certain magical fallout. I armwaved Frederick and Jax taking their leave, and we met Thayer as he was vision-questing his way around the forest.

Fulvus, acting on a hunch, tried out his new ring (found last session), which turned out to be a ring of jumping. We now have a jackrabbit of a halfling, with both fast boots and a bouncy ring. Mareth tried on his ring, but found no apparent qualities, other than the fact is was now stuck on his finger... Although he did have a fancy new bow.

Fulvus and Thayer got reacquainted over their shared red hats and we got to exploring. The area was home to several barrows, left over from prior generations before the area's depopulation. Always in the search for capital, the party decided to go grave-robbing.

I'd prepped for this contingency by printing out Dyson's Barrow Mounds of Lich and Famous series, which gave me 24 tombs in size from one-room to rather elaborate. I'd also ginned up some 'tomb content' random tables and a few reserve NPCs that a party might meet in the woods.

While poking about, the party encountered a few goblins. Two of whom they dispatched, and that third beat feet. Thayer collected one of the deceased goblins for use in setting off traps and spider-bait. Waste not, want not.

Number 1 on the random rolls was this space:

nothing creepy about it

The inscription on the stone accessway described a warrior who fell fighting Chaos, now interred with a few loyal soldiers. The party accessed the tomb, and no traps we set off by Jerry the Goblin Marionette.

A shallow pool filled the center of the space, and seemed harmless until Thayer stepped in, rousing four skeletal soldiers (upgunned skeletons). The fight was fierce, with Mareth taken to unconsciousness (although he had been able to tie up two skeletons at once with some fancy polearm tactics). Finally smashing the last skeleton, the party caught its breath. Tapping the walls, Fulvus and Thayer found the crypt of the interred warrior, and retrieved an elaborate golden collar/necklace for their efforts.

The party decided to overnight, hoping that Mareth would be able to get to his feet in the AM. The night passed without incident, other than heard footsteps and moments of paranoia. 

Mareth was back on his feet (sorta) in the morning, and of course we're going to poke around more barrows rather than retreating to town...

Barrow 2 was found to be occupied, but not by the dead. The simple chamber was furnished with a bed, humble belongings, and a small shrine with some goddess figurines. While the elves investigated, Fulvus was accosted by the resident, a hermit cleric named Tedros. 


Tedros was quite put off by this violation, although he did step off a bit when the two elves emerged. Finding himself outnumbered, he became a bit more compliant. Even more so when Thayer charmed him... Tedros was amicable to casting a healing spell on the injured elf. Tedros had retreated to the wilderness to quietly worship Nidea, an out-of-favor goddess of eclipses and secrets, and although having adventured in the past, sought quiet mediation and research away from they eyes of currently ascendant religions.

Now acting as a local guide, Tedros led them to a nearby tomb. This one had its doorway stone pulled away and shattered. The party entered cautiously, coming across a few animated skeletons. Wary after his last encounter, Mareth shattered one, and was relieved when Tedros destroyed the remaining two by calling upon the powers of his goddess.

A second chamber revealed a magic mouth, warning intruders away from the cursed tome of Saloman Rosal. Sure, whatever, we're adventurers. But Fulvus did find a nice gem in the room...

Finding the sarcophagus in the third chamber, the party was set upon be Saloman, in his current wight state. Fortunately, the party was able to avoid his attacks, but unfortunately Nidea did not answer Tedros' solicitations for aid, and the party had to retreat, firing a magic missile as a rear action. 

Again, time to go to town? Of course not. A plan was hatched to invisible the halfling and distract the wight with the hopes of grabbing some loot. Judicious use of thrown torches and dead goblin distracted the wight, and Fulvus made a quick snatch and grab of a small coffer containing some coin and a scroll.

Now it was time to go to town. Thayer bartered the scroll to the local elves for a couple of low-level spells that he could use more readily use, and the party called it a day.

DM notes: 

Again, some "planned improvisation" as I had made up some tables and ganked the previously-mentioned crypt maps for a "just in case" scenario. We had primed the area during the prior episode by adding lore of an area of old barrows. Additionally, stumbling on a random hole in the ground during other wanderings necessitates at least some low-level planning. 

I made up four generic 2d6 tables for general barrow info: General barrow occupants (undead, critters, other), Undead types, Critter types, and Treasure type/size. From my 2d6 tables, the buffed-up skeletons in Crypt #1 were "weird" undead (with type ID'd as 'skeleton'), and Crypt #2 was occupied by "unusual."

As you can plainly see.

Once the party breached a barrow, I also used the classic B/X room content table... rough out contents. For instance, the magic mouth in crypt #3 was a "special." 

Overall, I found it to be relatively efficient for the situation, and didn't take a lot of page-flipping or pauses, as I could build out a mental map of the small spaces with a few sets of d6 rolls. It worked well enough that I'll likely transfer the table in my notebook into a text files for easier reading and printing, and to modify or elaborate on table elements for the next time. As plenty of other writers have prognosticated, building out encounter tables using the hallowed 2d6 curve.

Overall, a good experiment in running some spaces on the fly.

And in tune with the undead theme - last Sunday's 20-minute monster by Toren Atkinson, Lani the levitating lich, wearing leather leggings and a lanyard, casting Lightning Bolt...

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