This evening's session found the players cleaning the last few scrub polyp-monsters from the millhouse cellars and getting into a long, involved episode of dealing with the potentially toxic smoke from a disturbingly human-like mushroom they had shot in its little wrinkly face and set on fire.
They then headed into the other direction from Trossley, eastwards to investigate the loud noise from a couple of nights ago, and found that the Castle of the Mad Archmage had reappeared.
Carefully skirting the bastion from which the raucous sounds of suspected bandits wafted, our intrepid adventurers circumambulated nearly the whole dimensions of the pile. (When I roll for wandering monsters, a 2 rather than 1 on d6 indicates the sound, track, smell, or other clue to the monster, rather than the monster itself. Adds drama ... and lets the party go pick or avoid a fight if they want to.)
They next entered the one clear gate into the walls, at the low end of the huge slanting limestone rock hill whose surface the castle walls entirely bound. Passing through the gatehouse tower, they were attacked by a large black-widow spider as it rappeled down on its thread from the upper storey. After some confused misses on both sides, Grumpka the dwarf clove it asunder with her axe.
As the sun was getting low in the sky, it was decided to head back and head out the next day. Funny how Motley Tom chose to pitch his tent selling magic wares near the boarded-up east gate of the town ... almost as if he knew something about the coming increased popularity of that direction. And now Clem, the youngest son of the ten-foot pole magnate, is getting back into the game ...
So! It begins. I've added a castle "upper works" to the Cellars of the Castle Ruins that I was running this summer. The spider is an homage to the first encounter from Grendelwulf's very recently divulged sketch of Gygax's original first level to Castle Greyhawk, which I highly recommend as a historical document and a great example of Old School principles - seriously out of level monsters, groups of dwarves and elves to bargain with, trick rooms and secret doors a-plenty. Hey, if I'd had that to work from, maybe I wouldn't have written my own first level for the old Castle. But I'm happy with my own work and eager to get some use out of it.