Back at Falcon Keep (the Keep on the Borderlands) our heroes gear up for another expedition. This time they plan to head back to the solitary cave they discovered (The Cave of the Unknown) and explore more of the dungeon within (which is Quasqueton or B1: In Search of the Unknown). Our heroes are:
- Willem the Thief - 3rd lvl
- Apollo the Elf - 2nd lvl
- Orrick the Dwarf - 2nd lvl
- David II the Halfling - 1st lvl
- Skullduggery II the Magic-User - 2nd lvl
- Horus the Dwarf - 2nd lvl
The fight is short but brutal, as both spiders end up dead but Horus and the one remaining hench fighter both end up poisoned. Scrambling around the hall of exotic fungi the rest of the party manages to put together something they think will stop the poison and they feed it to the downed pair. Miraculously it works and after a short rest the group is back on their feet, ready to explore.
Heading for the northwestern section of the halls they hear noises and proceed cautiously, arranging the party in a hall-fight formation. As it turns out, just in time, as they encounter a band of giant rats exploring the hall and moving in the opposite direction. After a short fight the rats lay dead and the party has suffered only a few scratches. They prepare to move on...
DM notes: This was a nice productive session that didn't take a lot of time. The Ochre Jelly in the pool room really put the fear of dying into them so they want no part of that side of the dungeon even now, months of real-time later. I had not put much into the part of the dungeon they went for first and that was probably good as they had a chance to explore and get their confidence back up.
The Spider fight was fun but it did remind me of some of the differences between old D&D and newer D&D. There were really no terrain rules back then. I gave them some cover modifiers for moving into the fungus forest and setting off clouds of spores but there was nothing in the module and if it was a 4E game I probably would have worked up all kinds of weirdness in advance. For this I mainly went with a +2/-2 for various conditions. I also was reminded of how much I dislike instant-death poison - hated it then, hate it now. In this case if the PC fails his save vs. poison then they die in 1-4 turns. That's pretty harsh at low levels and with no magical healing. Since they were in a fungus garden I gave them a wisdom check to come up with an "antidote" that would give a poisoned character another chance to save upon consuming it. They managed to make a few doses (each un-poisoned character got one check) and the re-saves were successful, so they felt pretty good.
We then wrapped up with the rat fight in the hallway which was a nice straight-up fight - no traps, no engulfing, no poison.
For the "poison" problem I am thinking about possible house rules. One idea I am toying with is adding the condition track from Star Wars Saga Edition to the game. Something like a Crab Spider would inflict a -1 on the condition track with a failed save. Stronger poisons might inflict a -2 or more. It might even work with petrification and the like, so that if you go all 5 steps from one of these attacks you pick up a persistent condition that doesn't go away until the proper spell is cast or potion is drunk - neutralize poison, stone to flesh, etc. It's just a rough idea but it would eliminate the all-or-nothing element and give the players a chance to strategize or even retreat from a bad situation rather than losing a character to one bad roll. I don;t want to over-complicate Basic D&D (simplicity is kind of the point) but I don't like losing a character in every other session either and this might be an acceptable compromise for us.