Castles & Crusades Diary: Dragonclaw Barony, Session 30

Summary:
The adventurers descend into the underworld using dwarven spelunker hirelings to assist. They fight cavernlight moss, bats, and giant funnel-web spiders. I also do a review of Owlbear Rodeo VTT, discuss use of hirelings to enhance the game, mine exploration videos, and dungeoneer survival guides.

PC’s:
Jabari Rajul-min Alshrq, Human Monk 2/Cleric 1 (class and a half) of Horus 
Magnus, Gnome Druid 3 of Belenus 
Malcolm, Human Wizard 3/Bard 1 of Arcanus
Homonoea, Dragonslayer 2 of Athena
Rok, Half-Orc Fighter 3 of Crom
Anne, Elf Rogue 3/Cleric 2 of Laeroth Mestarine

NPC:
Thorthic Norain, Dwarven Barbarian/Cleric of Thor

Hirelings:
Three “Axe for Hire” Dwarves of Dumathoin
Three “Wayfinder” Dwarves of Dumathoin

Game Session Diary:
The adventurers descend into the underworld seeking out the origins of raiding Grimlocks they had previously encountered, seeking treasure, exotic underground creatures and draconic creatures.

Before getting any further, I want to mention how much I still love Owlbear Rodeo VTT for games I run online. For this session I used an initiative tracker that I learned of watching some You Tube tutorials (you can take whatever style initiative tracker you like, upload it as a token, and then just drag it onto your map and your players can drop their tokens on top of it when they roll initiative. In the map shown below you can see the initiative bar and player tokens at the bottom left. In the top left the players have set up marching order (or watch order if they are resting). And on the map we simply use one token to represent the group, NPC, and monster(s) and rely on theatre of mind to deal with the details. I am a huge theatre of mind person and only want to rely on a VTT at the most minimal, non-intrusive level, and Owlbear Rodeo is the best VTT out their to assist a GM in running a game and not become a crutch for which you have to spend untold hours using it to prepare for a game. The setup below took me 5 minutes.

This VTT map I used for my adventure can be located at: https://www.crookedstaff.co.uk/2020/02/vtt-maps-for-february.html

Okay, back to the game diary. Thorthic, an NPC that has been with this group for quite a while new they would need some help when he learned they were going to descend into the earth. He may be a dwarf and has some knowledge regarding stonework, but he is a barbarian/cleric of Thor, so decided to hire (with some of the money he got from previous adventures with the group) some dwarven miners and mercenaries of the dwarven god Dumathoin, who has enhanced their mining abilities (in my game world worshipping a god bestows some special abilities, much like specialty priests from 2E or prestige classes from 3E). With their additional abilities (background as miners) and equipment (e.g. expert dungeoneer backpacks with lots of rope, grappling hooks, etc.) they were prepared.

And now a quick aside on Hirelings! Hirelings are a great way provide much needed skill enhancement and extra muscle if the group ends up in a tough situation. It allows players to focus on what is important to them without having to get too bogged down in other details while I still get to emphasize other important parts of the adventure. With extra muscle the adventure can also be more challenging. It really is the perfect balance, the NPC and hirelings lurk in the background letting the PC’s shine, and when a major challenge arises, they can then do their thing as support.

Okay, now back to the game diary! After descending through the original Grimlock area they had visited more than a month before, they arrived at a large cavern filled with a green moss with yellow glowing spheres (Cavernlight Moss, see picture below). It mostly hugged the edges of this huge cavern (see the map above; each square represents 10 feet). In the central part of the cavern hundreds of bats lurked on the ceiling a hundred feet above them.

Cavernlight Moss art from Tome of Beasts by Kobold Press

The characters had to decide how they were going to proceed through the cavern, down the central portion underneath the bats and move through as much as several feet of bat guano, or hug the sides and discover whether the cavernlight moss was carnivorous.

They moved to the side to avoid as much guano as possible and the cavernlight moss swung its tendrils toward the party members! Many swung their weapons and tore off a tendril here and there, but Anne was not going to waste any time, she cast sound burst, which caused such a boom that chunks of moss fell to the ground as well as over a dozen bats! If they weren’t awake before, the bats were sure awake now! While other adventurers tried to move forward, Anne sent up another sound burst, the cavernlight moss in that early section was now dead and dozens more bats fell from the air, with the rest deafened or confused by the sound. Anne then cast the spell a third time! Dozens more bats fell. Even though there were hundreds of bats in the cavern, they couldn’t deal with this anymore and fled through openings in the ceiling found in the northeast alcoves that led to the surface (this had also provided air currents throughout the cavern which ensured the bat guano smell was not overwhelming).

Exiting through the southern part of the chamber they found a 60° descending shaft. The rock on this shaft was very unstable and could break off in your hands or under your feet. This was why Thorthic hired dwarven mining experts! They set off ahead to set up at roughly 50-60 foot intervals iron spikes hammered into the rock and connected by rope. At each of the roughly 60 foot sections one of the dwarves stood, ready to catch an adventurer that might fail their climb check and beginning to tumble down the shaft. And tumble a few of them did! I had the players make checks to descend the shaft (Strength or Dexterity, depending on how they chose to descend, this is part of the virtue of C&Cs SIEGE Engine mechanic, you have versatility and choice when it comes to how you do things). If they failed that check I gave them a Dex save to try and catch the rope, hold on, and regain their footing. If they failed that save they then began tumbling down the 20 foot wide tunnel and had to hope that a dwarf or another companion would catch them at some point during a 50-60 foot tumble. Several characters did indeed take a tumble, but luckily with this setup a dwarf or companion always got them (albeit a little scuffed up and damaged!).

Screenshot from the You Tube mine exploration programme Abandoned and Forgotten Places.

Arriving at the bottom they found small side caverns that darted off to the side of the main corridor. These, however were filled with large funnel-web spiders. All the tumbling rock and dust had covered up most of the webs and they were hard to see. The group knew from a few Grimlock foot prints that they needed to head north. They ended up tripping over some hidden webs and giant spiders darted out. The spiders found it hard to hit the well armored Homonoea, but Thorthic got a mighty bite, and even though dwarves get impressive poison saves, I rolled low and he became paralyzed…for 13 hours! Fortunately, the adventurers killed the spiders before that! But they did choose to enter one of the empty alcoves to rest for the night waiting for their dwarven friend to recover. With six dwarves with 120 foot deepvision spread out among the three watches, nothing got near the group.

The next “morning” (a rather meaningless term underground), they continued north and fought more spiders, eventually arriving at a large, multi-leveled cavern (see map above). To the west was a large group of giant rats (they estimated around 30), some party members went back and procured some spider meat and with two hands heaved mighty chunks to the hungry rats (which seemed to satisfy them) and they were temporarily left alone.

To the northwest they found a small mushroom patch of what seemed to be edible mushrooms (according to the dwarves). There was also a set of tracks from a single rat. What could tracks from a lone giant-ish rat mean?

To the east they found several large steps leading nearly 60 feet below to another stone platform. On that platform the dwarves, making use of a finely focused beam from their bullseye lantern, saw a strange erected stone monument by the Grimlocks to some kind of serpent creature. Could this be some kind of dragon or drake?

The dwarves also could tell the platform would be descending into the earth even further at more than an 80° angle – the dwarven hirelings were going to be even more important here! But that will be for our next session in two weeks.

I’ve been watching a lot of mining shows recently, such as Abandoned and Forgotten Places. I’ve also enjoyed re-reading portions of the AD&D Dungeoneeer’s Survival Guide, as well as the recently published Survivalist’s Guide to Spelunking by AAW games (a homage and modern take on the DSG, indeed Douglass Niles contributed to this modern book as well). It is always fun to try and bring an environment to life and hope you can give everyone a fresh look at something. I look forward to seeing what I can add in the future.

Returning to the Gaming Table!

In early March 2020 gaming at my home, game stores, and the conventions I attend came to a halt. For nearly 15 months I’ve conducted my gaming online. But beginning 1 June, 2021, all the gamers in my home game will be making their triumphant return to my table! Will anything be changing after gaming online for the last 15 months?

Well, first of all, with 15 months of working at home (and a brief period of unemployment), I’ve had time to work on my house. The medieval décor has been enhanced during this time. When my players enter my house they should feel more immersed than before. Also, I gained three players for my home game during the pandemic, so those three players have never been to my house, so this will be their first visit.

When I first switched from Dungeons & Dragons to Castles & Crusades I purchased extra books so that players could reference them at the table and buy them from me if they enjoyed the game and my campaign (some might initially be reluctant to try a game other than D&D or Pathfinder. I’ve now been running C&C for 3 years now and have a steady and loyal group of players dedicated to my game and the C&C system. With the books you see on the table (Codex Germania, Nordica, Slavorum, Classicum, Celtarum, Mystical Companions, and several Players Handbooks) in the above picture, I now have players who’ll be purchasing most of those books off of me, ensuring that they have all the options for available game play for C&C and my campaigns.

You can also see some of the map fragments from Barrowmaze. During the pandemic I made use of Discord screen sharing and later the Owlbear Rodeo VTT to share the Barrowmaze map sections they had discovered. Now, we can return to using old fashioned paper handouts with the players folding and taping them together as they receive them.

As it happens, two of the players over the next few months will find themselves unable to game in person at various points in time, and here all the experience of online gaming will remain relevant. For those unable to attend in person for a session, can still appear via Discord and I will have a map fragment posted on Owlbear Rodeo and the webcam aimed at our gaming with everyone in sight (and we will be able to see them with their webcam).

As for GMing, face-to-face gaming won’t change much for me, since I mostly ran my online gaming using the actual physical books before me (I really don’t like reading digital/PDF material while gaming and only used them for screen sharing or uploading to Owlbear Rodeo). I run games mostly standing up and moving about and that means picking up and reading through physical books when needed, and this is remains true for me whether gaming in person or online.

However, there will be a few minor changes. So, instead of me rolling the critical hit/fumble dice for a player, they can now roll the dice themselves (you can see the dice tower where I will makes some of my occasional public rolls as well as the critical hit/fumble dice in a skeletal hand in the picture of my gaming table two pictures above).

I also like to have ambient music playing in the background of my games, and that didn’t happen during my online games. Now, with people back in my gaming room, I can have music and sounds playing in the background. When you add the subdued lighting, candles, flickering LEDs, etc., the game should be greatly enhanced! It will be nice to finally have everyone back for proper socializing!

Castles & Crusades Diary: Barrowmaze, Session 59.

Summary:
1. The entire west end of the Barrowmaze is explored.
2. The adventurers hunt Bugbears setting up an alliance with one of the Barrowmaze necromancer factions.
3. OwlbearRodeo VTT comes to the rescue again.

Game Diary:
We began the session with only two rooms left to explore in the NW corner of the Barrowmaze. Both entrances to the rooms were bricked up, so the strong members began smashing them down with their sledge hammers. This attracted attention from crawling claws, but they were easily destroyed. In the last room one rogue accidentally triggered a trap and the entrance to the room was blocked by a falling rock and those inside the room had to try and find an escape route as the 20 x 20 foot room was filled with water in a mere 5 rounds from two water tubes in the ceiling! Luckily, just as they were about to begin worrying about drowning, they found a secret entrance out of the room and escape! The group picked up some nice coins and treasure for their effort and they headed back to Ironguard Motte.

Once back in town, Conwrick Pimkin, a hobbit ranger they know from some of their adventures in the nearby woods, told them of rumors he heard from his hobbit friends that a nearby group of bugbears are possibly setting up an alliance with one of the necromancer groups in the Barrowmaze. Hobbits (i.e. halfings) pay attention to bugbears since in my world bugbears are a corruption of the hobbits. All hobbits in my world are told stories that if their oversized greed for treasure gets the better of them that they could grow to into the monstrous proportion of these beasts, and the hair on their feet will spread to the rest of their body. In actual fact this takes generations of corruption to occur, but it still makes great stories to scare young hobbits with when they are children!).

Bugbear (art by CMOFFITT, ZBrushCentral)

The group decided to seek out these bugbears and stop them. One player decided to use this opportunity to bring in a new character he had created – a triple class elven cleric/wizard/archer.

This was one of those times that I was glad I use the OwlbearRodeo VTT. When I had Conwrick convey the bugbear rumor to the group, my thought was simply to lay plot down for a future game session, for we had already spent three sessions out of the Barrowmaze and I thought the group would go right back in, but, no, they decided to go bugbear hunting! So I suggested a 5 minute bio break and during that time I took a quick break, replenished my water, and then jumped to Owlbear Rodeo to design an adventure on the spot that could last the remaining 3-4 hours!

I quickly loaded a grass map on a grid, drew some green circles representing trees of various diameters, and then threw on 20 tokens to represent the bugbear ambush at night (I made the tokens invisible to the players until the monsters would begin attacking from surprise each round) . This simple and efficient setup only took a couple of minutes and was perfect for me. I refuse to spend more than 10 minutes on any VTT setup for a game, especially since in situations like this one, I need to make spontaneous and on-the-spot decisions based on what my players choose to do. Any VTT that requires elaborate pre-setup and lots of automation is a complete non-starter for me. I use as much as possible theater of mind and look up details in books only if necessary. The map was simple, but more than did the job and verbal descriptions took care of the rest.

The Owlbear Rodeo map I put together in seconds to layout the bugbear night ambush.

Conwrick led the way to the woods doing the tracking for the group, and they traveled for an entire day before needing to seek a campsite in the western woods of the Duchy of Aerik for the evening. It was during first watch that the druid saw the flickering orange campfire light illuminate the canopy of trees above them, along with the movement of some being in the shadows of the leafy branches. She alerted her friends just as a bunch of arrows descended down upon them from the trees above from bugbear archers!

Initially the group thought they were only fighting 3-5 bugbears, but as each round progressed 3-4 more bugbears would reveal themselves when a volley of arrows fell down upon them from a new set of nearby trees, either from behind trees on the ground, or in the canopy 30-70 feet above. Eventually the group realized they were fighting 20 bugbears. Gimli, the dwarven berserker who had lycanthropy, summoned Odin’s Fury and also transformed himself into a werewolf! He howled and hoped to summon any wolves in the area to aid him (he also had to make a wisdom check to be able to control his new chaotic evil werewolf personality and be able to recognize friend from foe).

The fighting was elaborate as some characters with spider climbing ability were climbing trees and running across the canopy from one tree to another, while others attacked from the ground with their melee or ranged weapons, and others were climbing trees to backstab the bugbears. There was great use of flanking, backstabs, and charges taking place. The bugbear leader had acquired some necromantic power and upon firing an arrow into Ria (the human pacer climbing the tree toward him), filled her with paralysis, and even with slippers of spider climbing, she tumbled 40 feet down the trunk of the tree – but somehow managed to survive! Another bugbear nearly took out the mystical owl companion of Belden (gnome bard), but a card from the Deck of Dirty Tricks saved it from death and it managed to get healed up in future rounds.

Due to the staggered and careful attacks of the bugbears, this battle took time (in game terms), and by the time they were defeated, several minutes had passed (normally a combat is over in just a few rounds). It was as the last bugbears fell from the trees that Gimli’s wolves were arriving. He left Odin’s Fury (and had to make a Wisdom check so as to not lose a point of wisdom from the effort of his berserk state of mind), but he chose to stay in werewolf form to maintain control of his wolves and so they could remain with him through the remainder of the night and protect him.

Next time they will loot the bugbears, and…then what? Look for more bugbears? Head back to the Barrowmaze? We’ll all find out next week!

Castles & Crusades Diary: Barrowmaze, Session 53.

Summary:
Owlbear Rodeo VTT continues to enhance my game. The two full moons of Lunacy empowers lycanthropes: two players become werewolves and one of them dies in the intense battle. I reflect again on character death.

Owlbear Rodeo VTT with a mixture of their tokens placed upon a white board photo I had taken over a year ago.

VTT Thoughts – Owlbear Rodeo:
First, I want to bring up Owlbear Rodeo. I brought it in to my Saturday Dragonclaw Barony campaign at the end of January to help the players of that group wander through the simplified Basic Fantasy floor plan I was using. It worked well and it was nice to see the players interact with it while still relying on Theatre of Mind for most things. For my Barrowmaze group last night it was time for a different application. They were returning to an outpost called East Tan (the East Tannery), where they were going to help defend it from Lycanthropes that are enhanced and go on a rampage during the two full moons of Lunacy. I had drawn up a map of East Tan on a large white board in the summer of 2019 for the players who game at my home. But due to the pandemic we are all gaming virtually. How was I going to provide them with that white board picture and maintain that interaction like we have in person? Luckily, I have a habit of taking pictures of things I draw on the white board for future reference (it is a leftover habit from when I was a philosophy professor and wanted to keep the logic formulas I wrote on the whiteboards in my classrooms in case I needed to refer to them after class if students had questions). In this case nearly 1.5 years later, I just uploaded the picture into Owlbear Rodeo right before the session and threw some tokens on it to represent some wagons (they are the large gear symbols you see in the picture above). The players then added tokens for themselves, and the red circles represented bear traps they set and attempting to hide to capture or kill any lycanthropes that would dare to attack them, It worked really well! And as you can see, the red dots and the letters on the buildings done in this VTT look like they were the original markings I made on my whiteboard in the summer of 2019! The scale isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t matter to me in this instance since the placement of the tokens is simply to provide a point of reference, for details we verbally discuss actions, and this allows a flexible and adjustable interpretation of the situation which I prefer. I love the broad and simple application of this software.

Game Diary:
The players knew Lunacy was approaching. The Army of the Light are now becoming very well known in the Duchy of Aerik. The outpost of East Tan, which had been been liberated from a kobold infestation two years ago, requested the now much more powerful group to return and defend them, for they had heard that lycanthropes might be preparing to attack them during lunacy. The group was excited. The players spent 90 minutes purchasing supplies (they already had a “war wagon” with crossbow turrets, and now they purchased another wagon to block off another area of road. They silvered over 170 arrows, and bought dozens of bear traps (which they also silvered). They had a month in game time to prepare, and prepare they did!

90 minutes may seem like a lot of time to prep, but Lunacy game sessions are always high intensity adventures in my campaign. It was pointed out that in the three lunacy sessions I’ve run, that 3-4 characters turned into lycanthropes (two, who are wererats, are currently in gaming limbo and out of the campaign, but someday I will have a lycanthrope adventure for them), and several characters died. The most memorable of those sessions was when I had players defend the Keep on the Borderlands from a siege from all directions: werewolves attacked by battering the front gate with a battering ram, wererats crawled up through the lower levels and fountain, and werebats flew overhead and dropped werespiders into the keep from the air, where they used their webbing to create choke points in the streets preventing movement! It was lots of fun!

With 2.5 hours left in our game, the players arrived in East Tan and set themselves up (see the map above for the placement of the wagons (gear symbols) and bear traps (red dots).

In the first attack, some wereboars disguised as patrons of the Inn (“I” on map) transformed themselves, but Cobalt (paladin), and Balthazar (wizard), killed them. Next, more wererats attacked people in the Tannery (“T” on map), but they were also killed. More wereboars appeared in the Lumber Mill (“L” on the map), but Cobalt and Zen (monk) dealt with them without much fuss. Yet another pair of wereboars charged west on the road from the bridge to take on the characters on the southern wagon. One was skewered on a pole arm and the other stunned and taken down by silver arrow fire from the Guard Tower. The group was surprised (and I am sure the lycanthropes were too, for those lurking in the woods nearby would’ve hear screams from outpost victims, and then members of the Army of the Light would go in and a few moments later come out having successfully dispatching the intruders)!

The pack leader of the werewolves – name MaGallan – had enough of this. As the adventurers at the southern wagon were cheering during the skewering of the wereboar, MaGallan charged in from the west with three werewolves and six wolves. Gimli “Rot-Face” (dwarven berskerker) was bitten by MaGallan and two werewolves (the third was caught in a bear trap), and a couple of the wolves got a bite in as well. Gimli failed his saving throws – and right then and there under the power of lunacy he transformed into a werewolf before their eyes! MaGallan ordered him to attack Kiaria (seeker) right next to him. Next round MaGallan lunged in and bit James (arcane thief), he failed his save and also abruptly turned into a werewolf under the power of the savage double moons! The player’s were shocked by this sudden turn of events! Gnoosh (gnome rogue/illusionist) cast fear and somehow got the six wolves and two werewolves to flee. MaGallen looked up, pointed at Gnoosh, and told him he was next to join his pack. One player threw caution to the wind, he had his wizard launch a fireball into the intersection. The werewolf in the bear trap was scorched to death, James, the new turned werewolf also failed his save and was scorched so bad that not even his enhanced werewolf regeneration could save him; he was dead. MaGallan passed his save, but was left burned badly. In short order he was struck down.

The werewolves had now been either scared away, or burned by the fireball. Gimli had survived the fireball, but was unconscious at -8 hit points. Normally a person would bleed out -1 hit point per round and then die at -10, but he was a werewolf during lunacy, and he was regenerating 4 hit points per round – he would be back up and fighting in mere seconds! Several players wanted to save him if they could, but how could they render harmless a Dwarven Berserker Werewolf fueled by Odin’s Fury? The druid cast entangle, and other spell casters cast charm person and sleep. This restricted his movement, diverted his attention, and then lulled him to sleep. They shackled him up in chains and put him in the Barracks (“B” on the map). We ended the adventure there.

As I always do after each adventure, I asked the players what they thought of the session. There were some extended pauses and then a few quietly said “intense.” The feeling in the air was noticeably different. I am sure one player was sad that his Arcane Thief had perished, and others were wondering what the fate of Gimli might be. There is one player in the group who is a long-time AD&D player, so losing characters in the much less forgiving 1st edition is something he is long used to (“characters die” is a phrase I’ve heard him say many times), indeed, although he has four characters now, he previously lost one character to lycanthropy in a Lunacy adventure, and three other characters have died in my game, so he has effectively lost half his characters over the last three years. But not everyone has that perspective on character loss. Just a few days ago I wrote a blog post about why I have players use multiple characters. This may be one of the tests to see if my system works, for even though I want players to focus on a group of characters rather than put all their hopes and desires onto one character, we really can’t help but develop a favorite character at some point, can we? Even I as the GM am rooting for characters, especially if someone has put 20 or 30 sessions into building that character up. You can tell a player “a character may have existed for one session or thirty sessions, but don’t forget the joy you had using them, and the anecdotes you will be able to share years from now with other gamers.” It’s a nice sentiment, but that thought process doesn’t always work.

Castles & Crusades Diary: Dragonclaw Barony Campaign, Session 18

Summary:
I begin using a simplified VTT – Owlbear Rodeo – to enhance my game without losing the Theater of Mind focus. Meanwhile, within the game, the players battle a large Bone Horror and find the young boy Galen who they were tasked to find. A long trilogy of adventures is now winding down and a bunch of new opportunities is about to present themselves!

Game Diary:
My new stripped-down VTT – Owlbear Rodeo. In my Discord games I want to maintain Theatre of Mind. Obviously in an online environment you miss out on a lot of the essential face-to-face contact essential to table-top RPG gaming. For the last nine months for my C&C games online, I’ve been screen sharing map pdfs to provide players with reference points during their exploration. However, it was clear that I needed to make some changes. It sometimes feels that there are new VTT’s appearing every few weeks, but when I saw and played around with Owlbear Rodeo (https://www.owlbear.rodeo/) I thought this is what I need. I can import whatever map I am using, use the fog feature to cover it up, and then reveal portions of it as the players explore during the adventure. There are also counters which the GM and players can label and use if there is really a need to use them (there are a few more features, but I am doubtful I’ll use them). I can load a map and cover it with the fog feature for a game in a matter of 5 minutes. That is all the prep I need! I don’t need and don’t want digital character sheets and everything getting calculated for me. I am a hands-on referee. I want to reach for my physical books and page through them by hand and spread them across my tables. I am also a GM that stands up and moves about for roughly half my game session (perhaps 2 hours of a 4 hour game), which means I can’t just passively sit in front of my computer and fiddle around with my mouse for the entire game session (I find it static and boring). I have energy and I want to convey that to my players and get them excited, I am a GM trying to present awe-inspiring fantasy, I’m not trying to report the regional weather forecast for four straight hours using funny voices. So Owlbear Rodeo works well, I only need to take a moment once in a while to remove the fog to reveal where the group is going next, and most of the time I can interact with my players standing up and motion and gesture to convey what they are seeing and hearing.

The game session. The group was roughly halfway through exploring the catacombs of Rodemus Keep when the session began. During our four hour game they pretty much completed the entire complex, taking on a group of goblin tomb raiders which had barricaded themselves within a large chamber. This forced the players to enter one-by-one instead of just charging in, which allowed the goblins to get a few rounds of arrow attacks in. But when you have warriors wielding great-axes, the goblins are going to be taken down! There were also encounters with zombies which were dealt with easily enough. Many more storage rooms and burial chambers with un-animated dead were explored.

The final encounter for the game session arrived when they approached a door and the paladin detected a wave of evil triggering a powerful headache. One cleric cast a protection from undead scroll which radiated its magic for a 10 foot radius around her. They opened the door and facing them was a 9 foot tall creature which had tattered bat-like wings, a zombie face with two skeletal heads on mounted on its shoulders, two clawed hands, and a scorpion-like tail. It screamed out “save the boy!” and then flew over three zombie minions it had under its control and went to attack the characters. It’s attacks mostly missed. Players attacked it in turn, but noticed that non-magical weapons had no effect on it. However, one of the clerics successfully turned undead, and as it turned to flee, players with magical weapons moved in and attacked it with bonuses to hit from behind. This broke the turn attempt and it turned to face them again for its three attacks (claw/claw/sting), but again it failed to leave its mark (which is good, since it’s tail sting was of the old-school saving throw vs. poison or die variety). They beat the undead monstrosity to its knees and destroyed it, at which point the remaining three zombies were a mere afterthought.

Bone Horror

The chamber of the bone horror was connected to another room with a ladder leading up a chimney to a secret exit point from the catacombs. Hiding behind the ladder was the young boy Galen. He was so happy to be saved from the frightening undead! The adventure was now effectively done, however, the players are very thorough, so in the next game session they plan to explore the last room or two they think might exist inside the catacombs (based on the couple of foggy areas that haven’t been revealed yet on the map). Once this is done they will return to the town of Dale, collect their reward, and then the adventure opportunities will be wide open for them. I shared various rumors with characters based on their races and classes a couple of months back and I will be expanding upon that when this adventure is officially completed. The next few months of gaming will be based on their interests for each game session. I wonder what they will want to explore? I will be supplying some of the rumors they picked up in a future game diary so that you, too, can ponder the possibilities.