Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Apprentices vs. Stonehell - Session 1

(Prologue is here)

I told the Apprentices what I was thinking - that it would be nice to have another fast-D&D option - and they agreed. Apprentice Who was sick so he sat out this round but Red and Blaster were ready to go.

The first part of the experience was making characters. I told them 3d6 in order. There were frowny faces but no real griping other than "you know that means we're going to suck, right?". I tried to gently push them forward with the whole "part of the fun is overcoming the odds with a less than perfect character" D&D dad speech but it's clearly not a huge plus in their opinion. I did give them the chance to swap two attributes around, and that made them pretty happy - briefly.

We are playing advanced Labyrinth Lord so we have all the races and classes from AD&D and Blaster was shocked by the stat requirements for a Ranger. Subsequently Red was shocked at the Paladin - "Who has a 17 Charisma?" was the comment I believe.

Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Campaign
Apprentice Blaster was subsequently shocked to find out that Elves cannot be Rangers! His favorite race can't be his favorite class! SMACK! Welcome to the good old days son! Actually I used to think that was stupid too so I eased up here and pretty much let races access to class = race access to subclass as well. We'll figure out the level limits and stuff when it matters.

Anyway we ended up with an Elf Ranger (surprise surprise) and a Human Cleric for Apprentice Blaster, then a Half-Orc Fighter and a Halfling Assassin for Apprentice Red. They have names but we will not concern ourselves with those names until they reach 2nd level.

Couple of interesting things here:
  • I like the idea of the halfling assassin so I allowed it. between this and the elf ranger thing I decided to just go with the tentative class = sub-class general guideline for now. Plus the advanced LL assassin doesn't have all that gray area stuff around what the table is for - it specifically says it's a chance to flat-out kill something under a couple of easily-met conditions. 
  • Half-Orc fighter ... those were fairly popular back when in some of my circles, a very traditional choice and with no prompting from me
  • Clerics - My background for the religions in this world is different than what I usually run and pretty loose so I told Blaster to make up whatever god he wants his guy to follow and tell us about it. He and Red immediately say "Talos" and start singing something from Skyrim and just tickling the heck out of themselves so apparently I need to play more Skyrim to start getting the jokes. 
This was all arranged very much on the fly so as they finished up character creation I handwaved a lot of travel time and said they headed straight for Stonehell when they left the great city of Dragonpoprt, bypassing the local town  in order to get right to the dungeon.

I'm sure it looks something like that
Stonehell is located in a box canyon which is walled off by a 20' stone wall, kind of like Helm's Deep without the fortress part. It's partially collapsed but the central section with the gatehouse is still intact. The canyon has some cave openings ala Caves of Chaos, plus there are some terrain features inside the canyon too - in short there are a lot of places to check out before entering the dungeon proper. They stopped to read the graffiti on the outside of the wall (treasure promises, warnings, etc.) and then went inside.

First stop was the first entrance on the left - empty, empty with big stone thing in the middle of the floor, then NOT EMPTY! Yeah, skeletons! A few minutes later and the skeletons are smashed to bits around the room and no one died!

Small, rubber skeletons, apparently - like these!
Encouraged by this they decided to check out a small wooded area and they manage to surprise a group of brigands waiting in ambush! A very one-sided fight breaks out and the brigands go down faster than the skeletons did, though they manage to get in a few licks in on the party.

Backtracking a bit they decide to enter a cave when the ranger notices some bear tracks and they hear a low growl form within -  a bear growl. Realizing this is likely the lair of the local mascot and good luck charm they decide to back off and check out some other options.

Heading up a nearby trail the neophyte heroes come upon a new cave with non-mascot wildlife - wolf tracks! They charge in and the wolves attack! In a flurry of vicious blows a wolf is wounded but the cleric goes down in the first round. Shocked back into reality a hard fight begins and goes on for 8 whole rounds, taking out all 4 wolves and only claiming the fighter's life along the way as an additional cost. The now somewhat less cocky party gathers up their things and heads to the nearest town, to bury the half-orc, help the cleric recover, and recruit some help.

Oh it wasn't THAT bad

DM Notes: Hey, I tried to get them to check out the hireling rules but they were not interested. All went well and they used appropriate caution until the wolf episode and well, hopefully they remember that. 
  • The binding wounds rule worked well so we're definitely keeping that. 
  • Assassination is not a hugely useful ability at first level as quite a bit of the time a backstab is enough to kill your target anyway - Red kept asking about rolling for assassination until I finally told him that you don't a special table to kill things with 5 hit points. Then of course with the wolves he really didn't have a chance to use it anyway.
  • They got distracted trying to parley with the brigands until I reminded them that they had surprised the goons and that talking to them first would automatically skip past that. They opted to attack instead. They did track them back towards their lair, so that could be an interesting development for next time.
It was a promising run and they were amazed that we got that much exploring and fighting done in the time we were actually playing. That's a good way to start and next time we should accomplish even more as we won't have quite so much character building to do. 

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