Tuesday, 31 July 2012

When Your Party Teleports

The intrepid Band of Iron ought to be wearing their knees ragged and knocking their foreheads blue, thanking the hell out of Mr. Tony Dowler for his gonzo foresight in designing the Purple Worm Graveyard (spoilers follow).

Another expedition into the great worm roads beneath the earth hit what they were looking for ... the cavernous Graveyard, carpeted with a fortune in purple worm teeth, illuminated by a hole in the ceiling. Fortunately, this came at a time when one worm-guard was distracted picking at a purple worm carcass and two were behind an illusionary wall (I rolled d6 3 times which put them in those locations, possibly the best ones possible for the party's sneaking advance.)

What a worm guard looks like, by Ilvj. Wish I still had the mini.

In the ensuing rumble, the party quickly realized it would not be a good thing at all if the guards were to reach the bronze gong, etched with wormsigns, atop the stepped dais. An unearthly metallic humming, growing louder, emanated from the going, reinforcing their anxieties. This led to some tense tactical moments as various worms, seeing themselves outmatched, made a dash for the gong.

Eventually, the worms were dispatched and the party fell to looting the piles of tusks. But the noise had attracted attention from topside and soon a fully armored knight, riding a great metallic butterfly and wielding one of the Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians, dropped through the hole. This combatant, which by report lived in the towers of the town Parmentell, confirmed the party's suspicion - the Graveyard actually lay right beneath the tight-fisted and evasive settlement itself, rather than somewhere in the hinterlands, as the town elders had wished it to be believed. Running from the fearsome 3d6 blasts of the lance, the party ducked into a spiraling tunnel that led upwards and upwards ... apparently another worm trail.

Going far enough up, they had a confrontation with Parmentell's town guards that went well at first, then poorly, and ran into the "dungeon" area of the Purple Worm Graveyard. Avoiding several dangerous-looking rooms, they found a secret door, and behind it ... a magical window offering a one-way trip to a peaceful meadow in "a far-away kingdom."

This is a perfect example of what I was saying about improvisation. Had I invented that window on the fly or even planned the dungeon that way, it would have stuck out like a candy-assed deus ex machina. But, being the unassailable writ of a published module, the players were overjoyed to see it as the enormous gift of providence that it was. After casting a fortuitous detection spell that gave them confidence that they'd at least heard of the place, without hesitation they leapt through.

In the noble tradition of Castle Greyhawk, I now have to deal with a party getting dropped into a completely unprepared area hundreds of miles from home. Fortunately, for now I have scraped up enough stuff from the internet and my own fervid imagination to tide over the next session. I look forward to sharing some of the process and product on a future occasion.

Teleportation is a common enough device that I'm sure other referees out there have dealt with this situation before. I wonder, though, if anyone else has felt the exhilaration among both game runner and players, of casting aside the tired and entangled old adventure setting and embarking into a new, strange and maybe perilous world ...

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