Friday 13 August 2010

Session Report: Storage Cellars of the Castle Ruins 1B

As soon as my in-laws, veteran gamers and SCAdians both, saw my character sheets, they could not resist rolling up Old School characters, and soon enough their son (~20, 3e and 4e experience) and daughter (~11, her first RPG) were joining us.

The party was only four strong - rich fighter (son), poor fighter (dad), mountain ranger rogue (daughter), and priestess of the Old Ways (mom). To add bulk, hirelings were hired, interviews being held at the Meatshields Tavern (hooray for wireless). They ended up with a garrulous elf swordsman and a grim human man-at-arms whose family had been massacred by lizardmen, to which roster was added Phred, card carrying halfling member of the International Brotherhood of Torchbearers, Linkboys, Pole Handlers, and Sack Haulers.

The game itself went on at the large and handsome rec room bar of the family's new house. This forced some improvisation of materials, but soon enough (PRO TIP) we found that a stack of index cards could be deployed to show the layout of the dungeon in limited space. The setup was great, with DM in the bartender spot, notes on a box below eye level, serving up round after round of encountery goodness. Beer caps were used at times to mark dungeon features.

The party chose the same entrance as the GenCon expedition had, but this time the smell they started to notice had a denizen behind it. Fortunately they were able to parley with it and pass without violence. They went in a different direction after that, and ran into a wandering scouting party of rock-throwing kobolds. These quickly faded away, though not before the mountain ranger had laid one low and wounded another with a single penetrating arrow shot into the dark (natural 20).

A brief flirtation with disaster came next, one of those dungeon features whose dangerous nature was discovered by sheer good fortune, and then provided an almost irresistible temptation to mess with. Fortunately, nothing too bad came of that, and the party was off down a looong corridor to the other side of the dungeon and a serious encounter with humanoids. Two hirelings were laid low, but survived due to the good graces of Trollsmyth's Death & Dismemberment table, which I mercifully applied because I liked these NPCs. The encounter could have gone a lot worse (hey, I gave you a chance to parley) but for some generally bad rolling on the DM's part.

One thing I'm noticing about dungeon crawl sessions is an almost universal conflict between more reckless and more cautious party members, with the reckless players setting the pace through the sheer fait accompli of their forward momentum. Is this something you find in play? Does it take a few more sessions or maybe a TPK for the wild ones to calm down? And is that always a good thing?


  1. I've noticed that too. I played a dwarf with a death wish once who was always ready to plunge into danger - the other six or seven in the group were cautious, and yet always ended up following me in (knowing that I had a death wish, I might add) and then spending most of their healing spells to patch me up.

  2. I found in other games of which I've been part, the party almost always winds up with the reckless ones toning it down after several sessions once an equilibrium is reached between recklessness and caution. It is even harder to control in 'one-shot' games where there is little-to-no long-term consequences for the reckless behavior.

  3. Nice write up.

    The Hirelings Union may need to talk to the IBTLTHSH. They could use their help in challenging the iron grip of the Hirelings Guild.