Hi I am running a ACKs Campaign that is starting with the barrow maze. My group ranges in ages 19 to 50, the younger members are college students and the older members are Physicists, Engineers, and a Librarian. While we all enjoy a beer and pretzel game, some of the members are pretty into theoretical side of RPGs. About 5 months ago a two year campaign ended and we decided to try out game systems do see which one fit us best. We tried D&D next, dungeon world, Fate, and a few others. One of the things that drew us to ACKS was the end game stuff, none of us really did that in the 30 years of gaming some of the players have under their belt. The other thing we are doing is running a module, something that none of really did either. I choose Barrow Maze based on online reviews.
One of my house rules is bonus XPs for writing sessions summaries (100/LV). About half the group likes writing them. They actually become almost a creative writing. Some are intentionally humerous others are first person. So I thought I would share it with you’ll and later discuss my thoughts on the game/rules.
An Adventurer’s Fate
Prologue: A Brigand’s Fate
A lone figure sat close to a small fire, desperately trying to keep warm on this cold wilderness night. It is a wonder this man was able to survive out here, for so long, with but a thin cloak to keep him warm. The man’s hood was pulled low over his face, hiding his identity.
The man sat motionless as three men walked up from behind, surrounding him. These men were dressed as classic brigands. The two men flanking the lone traveler held short swords, while the fat man behind the figure sported a large misshapen hammer. The fat, ugly man, clearly the leader of this trio, spoke first.
“We been tracking ya all the way from Wolverton elf, and now ya got narry a place to run.”
The elf remained motionless. After a few moments, the brigand spoke again, this time reaching for the elf’s shoulder.
“Tis polite to answer people when they talk to ya!” he japed.
One of the other brigands spoke up,“Where is his bow?”.
The ugly man nudged the elf, who proceeded to slump to the ground with leaves and twigs pouring out beneath his cloak. At the same time, an arrow whistled out from the darkness and lodged itself in the throat of the brigand leader. As he rolled to the ground, gurgling and clutching his throat, the other two brigands turned to the darkness in an attempt to identify the elf’s location. A second arrow soared, this time finding the heart of another brigand.
Suddenly realizing that sticking around was a bad idea, the third brigand turned and ran. He cared little for his companions and made a beeline for their horses. He made it back to the horses, or at least, where they had left them. The brigand, out of breath from his brave retreat, had his hands on his knees and wondered where the horses were.
A figured dropped down from a tree behind him and held the point of a very sharp sword to the back of his neck.
“I will take any valuables that you possess” demanded Sylvis.
Chapter One: A New Adventure
Sylvis, the elf, had no exceptional characteristics. He was of average height and average weight, all around an average elf. He was young for his race at 97, where most elves lived five times the length of humans. Alas, the fate of his race draws near and there remains little time for Sylvis to make a name for himself. Like most elves, he chose the path of the ranger, training in the art of the longbow from a very young age. His father had told him, however, the fastness was no place for a young elf like Sylvis. He was destined for greater things, but after these past few days, Sylvis began to have his doubts.
Oakhurst was still only a days travel from where Sylvis had set up camp for the night. Oakhurst was a small town home to bandits and brigands, and rest stop for adventurers who sought riches from the barrows. The elf had heard rumors about this small town, and the barrow mound where many adventurers had met their demise. This was where Sylvis hoped he could start. Surely other adventurers would welcome a skilled bow arm such as himself, to accompany them into the barrow’s dungeons.
He sat himself down at a table in the only tavern within Oakhurst, and waited. After a few hours of waiting, the most motley assortment of adventurers entered the tavern. They were four; a trio of spellcasters, and what appeared to be a banker of sorts. Sylvus laughed inwardly. Surely they were not foolish enough to investigate the burrow mounds without any muscle. The elf himself had hoped to group with such stalwart adventurers such as the noble paladin. So he sunk in his seat when this group of scrawny intellects approached him.
Sylvus was as unconvinced in their words as he was with their appearance. However, the elf feared he would not have another chance at the barrows, so he reluctantly decided to accompany them. Besides, he was the most likely to escape alive should they run into any trouble. Thankfully, the group decided to also hire a small group of man-at-arms, and was also accompanied by a mystic, who arrived later. Also, a three foot tall owl, belonging to the shaman in the group, added to their force. With their numbers, the elf was a little more confident in their ability to raid the barrows.
They departed for the barrow mounds and arrived after a short days travel. The barrows were a sight for the elf, whom had never seen the likes of such burial mounds. The group had a crude map or the area, which the mages used to determine their point of entry. The group decided upon an entrance that had not yet been breached in hopes that it would contain more treasures.
On their way to the mound, the group came across some ancient runes, telling a tale of the people, whose dead these mounds now contained. Antonio, to everyone’s surprise was able to crudely decipher the story, which proved to be unentertaining.
The group then arrived at their designated point of entry. Unfortunately, it would take them hours to tunnel through the thick stone passage that blocked their way. The group stopped to discuss other possible points of entry while Septimus, one of the mages, examined some reliefs on the closed passage. To his luck, Septimus managed to find a secret lever to open the portal the the mound.
Sylvis remained unimpressed as they entered the dungeon, for luck would not keep them alive. The ranger took up a position behind two of the man-at-arms that led the group down a narrow staircase. The group had a meager number of torches in hand, which told Sylvis this was the first such underground expedition the group had begun. At the bottom of the stairs was a rubble covered floor. Before the man-at-arms went any further the elf spotted movement among the stones.
At this warning, the man-at-arms tossed his torch among the stones revealing a half dozen nasty centipedes. These poisonous creatures dropped half of the group’s hired help before the last of them could be finished off. After the fighting died down, Sylvis examined the room and discovered a hidden door which lead to a private burial chamber. A few torch bearers kept watch while the group looted the burial urns and whatever else they could find.
After completing the scavenging of the outer section, the group prepared to enter the small inner room of the chamber. It took nearly an hour to breach the door of the room. Finally they succeeded at not only opening the door, but making sure everything that inhabited the barrow’s dungeons were aware of their presence. Sylvis entered the room first to find a very patient zombie. The elf dropped him with a single arrow.
Unfortunately, Heinrich, a mage that specialized in the necromantic arts, forgot to mention the zombie was in fact a coffer corpse. This meant that Sylvis’s normal arrow did not do the trick. The corpse proceeded to rise up, chanting dark magic. This chant washed a wave of overwhelming terror upon the elf and the necromancer who ran in fear. J, the mystic, ensured the safety of the elf whilst he under the effects of the powerful spell. The remaining man-at-arms, seeing the elven ranger fleeing, decided the expedition was lost and retreated from the dungeon.
Those that remained did battle with the powerful undead, but knew victory was hopeless without Sylvis. The rest of the group fled from the zombie and rendezvoused back in Oakhurst. Sylvis, J and Heinrich returned to the tavern of Oakhurst soon after the others. With the small amount of wealth they gained from the barrows, the group was able to rearm themselves with holy water and burning oil to defeat their undead foe.
By the time the group returned to the barrows, the coffer corpse returned to it’s slumber. The group setup a trap comprised of a tripwire and an oil soaked area for which to roast the zombie. This second attempt proved much more successful as the now dead corpse fell to the ground burning. Within the corpses chamber, the group found greater wealth, which raised their spirits. The group decided to return to Oakhurst and seek better help and better equipment.
The group afforded the help of four new companions; a cleric and a man named Asglad were the most notable of their new hirelings. Sylvis armed himself with a quiver of fine silver arrows to deal with some of the more resilient undead. The group returned to the barrows, forgetting to inform their new help of their previously hired mercenaries fates. Also, remembering that they had left some of the man-at-arms bodies in the dungeon, they decided to try a new entrance.
The group’s third expedition into the barrow’s dungeons proved uneventful until they came upon a large room full of pentagrams. Across the room was an alter or sorts. The group approached the alter for a closer inspection, which turned out to be a mistake. The two men leading the party, the cleric and a heavily armored man-at-arms, disappeared from sight and plummeted down a bottomless pit without a sound. Sylvis and J used their spears to prod the floor around the pit to make sure no more of the floor would fall away. Behind the alter in the room they found the body of a well dead cleric.
Throughout the dungeon the group found more burial chambers, which they searched and emptied of all valuables. The group then came across dark passage, from which the sound of an old woman calling for help could be heard. J thought it would be wise to investigate the origin of the sound, placing him in the hands, or tentacles even, of mutated humanoids. The mystic was knocked unconscious while the group slew the mongrel men. After the short encounter, without any further losses, the mystic was tended to.
The group, feeling that they had looted enough wealth from this dungeon to last them a while, decided to return to Wolverton. They sought room and board at one of the towns many inns to take a short reprieve from adventuring. This was alright with the elf, who had witnessed enough close calls already. He could only wonder, which adventure would be his last.