Into the barrow maze.

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.

Players Thoughts
My players universally hated 3d6 in order.
No one rolled 13+ on strength so no one was a fighter.
Meat Shields, everyone wanted them.
My thoughts
3d6 in order was a mistake.
Barrow Maze is awesome
House Rules Introduced
Everyone starts with 2 HD

Out of curiosity - did you roll the five sets of 3d6 in order then choose, or just one?

Although 2 HD shouldn’t actually break the game - PCs will still die in the Barrowmaze. :slight_smile:

I played in a year long Barrowmaze dungeon crawl using Labyrinth Lord rules [so, B/X, just a more literal clone than ACKS]. On that time scale, some of the things that are frustrating in one session, like poor stat blocks and frequent character death, contribute to the rush of victory. (Provided the GM also knows when to say “yeah, that could work, roll”.)

Fragility also pushes you towards hirelings, henchmen and wardogs. There’s a fine line - you shouldn’t be telling your players to do those things, they should be weighing the tradeoffs themselves, but they should be available.

Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t wait for a 13 strength to play a fighter. 9 Str and a decent Con, or better still Charisma, and I’d be all over Fighter or Dwarf/Vaultguard. (To be fair, ACKS’ cleave rule makes strength even more valuable than in the base game.) But they’re going to lose enough characters anyway they may as well play what they want as they figure things out.

I had a few more session summaries to post…

Chapter 2: A Merchant’s Demise

After a week of bed rest and recovery, the adventuring party reconvened for their next outing. The mystic had much to attend to in his homeland and had his filling of adventure; stating his absence in the group’s next expedition. Shiroq, the shaman, decided he required more time to heal the injuries he had sustained. This, or he had enough gold in his pockets for drink and merriment for many days. Sylvis was reunited with Pellidor, a fellow elf, whom was an expert at… he would fill the gap… we enjoy his company.

The group was eleven strong, including Heinrich the necromancer, Septimus the mage, Antonio the banker, Sylvis the ranger, four mercenaries, one of them Asglad the fortunate, a war dog for each Sylvis and Antonio and last but not forgotten Pellidor the other elf. After a three days travel to Oakhurst and another day of travel from there, the group was near to arriving at the barrow mounds once again.

The traveling adventurers were halted by a man in plate armor, who claimed to be the toll collector for the road to the barrow mounds. Sylvis, all too familiar with the tricks of brigands, surveyed the surrounding area and spotted many bandits hidden amongst the tree line. He made his group aware of the situation and the group sprang into action.

Heinrich initiated the combat with a spell directed at the lead brigandder began choking and grasping at his neck, completely unable to fight. The rest of the group aimed their efforts at the surrounding brigands. Mercenaries and hounds alike charged the tree line while Sylvis, Antonio, and Septimus fired arrows and slung spells to aid their charge.

In the heat of combat, Antonio was caught out in the open, leaving him vulnerable to the crossbow of one brigand. The bandit took the shot and embedded a bolt deep into Antonio’s chest. He fell to the ground without uttering a sound. Some of the bandits were able to flee before the battle was finished. The mercenaries, by Septimus’s orders, detained one of the brigands before he could escape. The highwayman, concerned for his life, generously offered the group the gold back at his shack and the location of the brigands headquarters. Also, out of the kindness of his heart, the brigand informed the group that the leader they slew has two brothers, who will most likely seek revenge.

The group accepted the brigand’s fifty gold pieces and then made their way to investigate the barn, that was supposedly the brothers’ home. Pellidor suggested the group burn the barn down to avoid future trouble with these brothers. The group ultimately decided to leave the barn alone, an obstacle to be tackled later, and leaving room for people to say I told you so.

The group returned to Oakhurst to mourn the death of their brave companion Antonio, he will be missed, but his gold won’t, since the group kept it. A short break in Oakhurst’s tavern led to the addition of Dak the barbarian to the group’s ranks. After recruiting a new able fighter, the group was confident enough to return to the barrow mounds and find more treasure.

The return trip to the burrow mounds was fortunately uneventful. The first room the adventurers entered had another pentagram on the floor. Suspicious of rooms with pentagrams, the group probed the floor to avoid anymore pitfall traps. This act attracted a handful of hostile giant flies. The flies felled two man-at-arms, but were otherwise no trouble for the group.

The group explored the dungeon further, encountering a few more zombies and a room where the body of an elf adventurer lay. On the body of the elf were magic gauntlets, a bag of holding, and a spellbook. The group continued on until they opened up a room full of ghouls. After a quick skirmish, that left the barbarian wounded, the group spiked the door closed and retreated from the dungeon. As they were fleeing, the group ran past a troupe of brigands. Upon exiting the dungeon, they once again spiked the door shut and left for Oakhurst.

There, they identified the magical gloves, which gave the wearer exceptional swimming and climbing skills. The group stayed a few days to wait for Dak to recover from his wounds. Sylvis acquired some weighted nets to test out against the ghouls. Once the barbarian was back to full strength the group departed from Oakhurst.

They returned once again to the barrow mounds. This time the group was greatest by a trio of ghouls dragging a body towards a pentagram. This eerie discovery gave the adventurers pause, there was more to this place than they thought. The ghouls noticed the group and advanced towards their new victims. Sylvis held the narrow passage to the room, effectively bottle necking the ghouls. The elf tossed his net on the lead ghoul. The group proceeded to hurl holy water, flaming oil, arrows, and axes, courtesy of the barbarian. The ghouls were slain without any casualties to the group or their expendable mercenaries.

They searched the room and found something that had not been there before. There was new treasure, which sparked a sudden realization by the adventurers. Not only were the undead inhabitants of this dark place able to increase their numbers, but they replaced treasures to lure in new adventurers.

Weary from their many incursions into the barrow’s dungeon, the group decided to take another vacation in Wolverton. They sold their wealth, and agreed to regroup in a week for another outing. Sylvis was learning much from these adventures, but he was ambitious. These small findings were simply not enough for the elf, he wanted more. He wanted power.

Chapter 3: A Brother’s Revenge

Shiroq had had his recess. He had become a regular at one of the taverns. After hearing news of this Frederic fellow and his brothers down in Oakhurst, Shiroq knew he could not delay his absence any longer. He had also emptied his pockets during all his merriment and was in debt with the innkeeper. The shaman met back up with his companions and warned them that Frederic’s brothers were hunting them, and that he was ready to rejoin them.

The news from the shaman troubled the group, because Pellidor was right and they would never hear the end of it. The group decided to return to the barn that they had previously investigated from afar. This time however, the group had every intention of approaching the barn and taking its inhabitants, if any, unawares. It was raining fairly heavily when they arrived at the barn, and the group paused at the edge of the tree line, making sure to stay out of sight. Some clever scouting by Shrioq’s owl revealed that it was indeed a barn we were looking at and that there were a few tasty chickens nearby.

This information seemed to please Dak. He courageously charged the barn alone and set off every possible tripwire and alarm along the way. The group, knowing that the brigands would not recognize the barbarian, thought his plan might actually work. Unfortunately, barbarians don’t have plans. Dak was halfway to the barn when the doors opened and a baker’s dozen bandits walked out of the barn. One of the brigands donned plate armor similar to Frederic’s, whom the group was quite sure was one of his brothers.

Frederic’s brother ordered the barbarian to halt and state his business. Dak, the genius that he is, requested shelter from the rain. A quick exchange of words compelled Dak to request parlay. The brigands proceeded to rob the barbarian of his possessions while the group watched. Dak stalled the bandits until the group came up with a battle plan.

Dak was nearly down to his loin cloth by the time Heinrich cast a sleep spell. While many of the brigands were incapacitated by the spell, the group took the opportunity to charge the barn. Dak battled with Frederic’s brother until proving the better fighter and slaying him with a few swoops of his great sword. The rest of the group thinned the ranks of the bandits until they were forced to retreat into the barn.

The group tossed flaming oil onto the barn, completing Pellidor’s long awaited plan. Septimus and Sylvis ran to the rear of the building to cut off any other possible exits. Dak braced the front entrance with his sword. Septimus spotted a cart and used it to brace the door at the back of the barn. The group exchanged arrows and bolts with the brigands in the hayloft windows.

Pellidor made sure the fire spread to the interior of the barn, and eventually the fire became too intense for the brigands inside. The front doors of the barn burst open and out rode the remaining four brigands and many more riderless horses. Heinrich stopped them from retrieving their sleeping comrades with a wall of conjured berserkers. The brigands were able to escape however, since none of the group had horses of their own to chase them. The necromancer made sure they didn’t think twice about stopping to rest, as he sent his squadron of loyal berserkers to chase after them.

A few adventurers braved the flaming barn to salvage any valuables before they could get lost in the burning rubble. Two of them came up with bags of gold coins. Sylvis however, not knowing his own strength, mistook a bag full of feathers for a bag full of coins. He played this off as intentional, since the feathers turned out to be those of a cockatrice, in other words very rare. After salvaging what they could, the group waited for the barn to burn down in full before searching for anymore valuables.

Amidst the debris, the group found lumps of electrum and silver coins that had melted together from the heat of the fire. Calling this siege all in all a success, the group returned to Oakhurst to plan their next step over some food and drink. Before entering the tavern of Oakhurst the group overheard some commotion within. They peaked through the window and recognized some of the brigands from the barn who had escaped. They were speaking ill words about the adventurers.

This scene gave the group pause. They had a quick debate about what actions needed to be taken. The shaman suggested the group simply burn down the tavern following the pattern from the barn. Septimus however, warned that Oakhurst was a popular stopping point for adventurers, and that there may be some strong warriors in the tavern the group may not wish to deal with. In conclusion, the group decided to rob the taverns patrons of their horses and head for Wolverton.

On the trip to Wolverton, Sylvis became very attached to a particular warhorse. The elf named Emperion and had imagined riding the great horse in future adventures. Unfortunately, the group thought it would be dangerous to keep the horse because of its value. The owner would probably come looking for it using the horse finder application on his iAdventurer.

The group had a long debate on what should be done about the town of Oakhurst, because clearly it was theirs to do with as they pleased. Septimus suggested that we could earn their trust back by luring monsters to the town and then slaying them; effectively playing the adventurers off as heroes. Others suggested that the town needed to be destroyed, to save future adventurers from it’s preying talons. The group decided to leave it alone for now in hopes that the people would forgive and forget.

The group sold all of their plunders and hijacked horses in Wolverton. Knowing that they could not return to Oakhurst just yet, they decided to purchase the equipment required to setup a camp not far from the barrow mounds. This camp would serve as a base should the group not desire to travel the three days to Wolverton for recovery. The group also purchased a cart drawn by horse to haul their findings from the barrows back to Wolverton.

The adventurers purchased horses for themselves and hired a squad of guards to protect their camp. The adventurers left Wolverton and then setup camp a half day out from the barrows. After the camp was setup, the group continued on to the barrows, leaving the four mercenaries behind to guard their empty cart.

The group entered the barrows once again. Each endeavor allowing them to travel deeper into the dungeon. Dak inspected a door that was left slightly ajar by opening it. Within the room were four zombies that noticed Dak as soon as he opened the door. He then closed the door and braced against it. Heinrich, felt confident in his necromantic powers and requested the group allow him to attempt to control these zombies. The group setup around the door to surround the zombies when they came through. With everyone in position, Dak opened the door once more to allow the zombies to come through. Heinrich’s favor with the dark god Nurgle did not appear to be strong enough, so the undead resisted his begging and pleading. The group was able to defeat the zombies without much difficulty, aside from Ajax, one of Sylvis’s prized tibetan mastiffs, sustaining some serious injuries.

The group adventurer further into the dungeon, coming across a statueless head of a woman. Dak found the woman to be attractive, so he picked up the stone head and placed it in his backpack. Next, the group decided to investigate a long hallway that they had discovered on a previous expedition. There were a few small rooms branching off the early parts of the hallway which the group decided to search for valuables. The shaman, aiding in the search, instead found a nasty rock grub that attempted to burrow into his skin. Thinking quickly, Dak took a torch from Heinrich’s squeamish torchbearer and burned the rock grub off of Shiroq.

Further down the long hallway the group discovered the statue that the head they had found belonged to. Dak attempted to place the head on the statue, so that it may come to life, but the head rolled off. Even further down the hallway was another hall branching off in another direction. The group decided to investigate this hall, which led them to a four way intersection. The group proceeded to investigate each path one at a time. The first of the paths leading to an empty room. The second resulting in Sylvis falling in a pit trap and otherwise a dead end.

The group pulled Sylvis out of the pit and then went down the final path. This path lead the to a room with a pair of statues identical to the ones they had seen in the main hallway. Some of the group were hesitant to approach, but when someone finally did approach the statues, they came to life and attacked the adventurers. The statues were not hard to kill and the party made quick work of them. It was discovered that they had been guarding a pair of gauntlets that gave off a soft glow revealing their magical tendency immediately.

Drawn by the powerful aura the gloves gave off, Sylvis approached and picked them up. removing the weight of the gloves from the daius however, triggered a deadly poisonous blade trap that would have slain any normal adventurer. The elf endured the impact of the blade, but succumbed to its poison. Thankfully, Heinrich’s healing arts are not tied to Nurgle, and we was able to neutralize the poison in the elf before it proved fatal.

Since the elf had sustained many injuries, the group decided it was time once again to head back to Wolverton. They proudly loaded up the cart with the gauntlets, packed up camp, and rode for Wolverton. The group felt taking another week off of adventuring would give time for the heat to die down in Oakhurst, and allow the group to be at full strength for their next outing. The magical gauntlets that the group found turned out to be powerful weapons against the likes of undead and granting holy warriors increased power. Since the group did not contain such an adventurer, they decided to sell the gauntlets for a fantastic price of eight thousand gold pieces.

After these events, Sylvis was beginning to see a change in the hearts of the adventurers. They were beginning to turn into the very brigands they had encountered on the road, and thinking only of themselves. Should the group continue down this dark path, they may reach a point of no return. The elven ranger thinks what his father would do if he were in this scenario. His father would not give up on these adventurers he now calls friends, and he would attempt to steer them back towards the path of good. The necromancer however, may have other plans. Why else would they be investigating a tomb for the living dead?

To be continued….

So far only 1 PC death but hirelings and henchmen have been dropping like flies. They have the barbarian and 3 war dogs now and they are feeling way to over confident. They are now trying to recruit more competent fighters and are finding it harder to recruit hirelings since so few return.

As far as rolling PC I did 1 time but I let them invert all scores if their total bonus was less than 0. This would have been very generous if most PC did not total 0.
I came up with another house rule that I used in other OSR was to allow stat gain rolls every level up they roll 1d20 and if they score higher then their ability it goes up by one. In other games I found this allowed for near normals to begin with but eventually becoming more epic when they hit high level. It has quieted most of complaints.

This is the last one for now…

 The elven ranger had disappeared into the woods with his wardogs -- the wardogs which had proven to be the centerpiece of the party’s battlelines.  Maybe he was looking for the mysterious mystic who had not been seen since the party’s first foray into the Barrowmaze.  Even without the core of their fighting force present, though, the party felt somewhat more confident after leveling up and decided to risk facing the music in Oakhurst.   The Shaman asked why the party didn’t just take over the village and settle the matter once and for all; Dak the barbarian concurred and spoke of conquering the isolated collection of mud huts and mud roads and muddy, barren fields, but calmer heads prevailed and the party simply marched into the tavern, the barbarian issuing a wordless challenge to all and sundry with his cold, grim stare.  As no-one in the tavern took up the challenge or even maintained eye contact, the rest of the adventurers felt safe enough to file in.

They began to chat up the locals, asking some of the rougher-looking patrons if they felt lucky and brave enough to seek the treasure of the Barrowmaze, and recruited several men-at-arms to fill in for the absent war-dogs. Dak espied a familiar face in the tavern crowd – one of the brigands from before. He chased him out into the street and cut him down, and then dragged the corpse back into the tavern, where he made a great show of beheading the corpse and telling the patrons that this was the fate of brigands who attack adventurers. The already frightened locals seemed to be on the verge fleeing en masse when a robed man approached Heinrich, the necromancer, and attempted to recruit him into his cult – the forgotten, and once forbidden, cult of Set. Instead the party agreed pursue a bounty the Set-worshipers placed on any and all followers of the equally disreputable, and marginally more evil, cult of Orcus.

The party then set out, with three men-at-arms, to explore deeper into the Barrowmaze. Heinrich, ever cautious (the reckless would say: cowardly) insisted that the party should confirm that the large altar room they’d found before was still empty, and lo! a group of brigands – including, it would turn out, Frederic’s last surviving brother – lay in ambush. The fighting was hard and close, but in the ned the party defeated the brigands and threw their corpses down the bottomless pit in the center of the room. Injured and depleted, though, the party soon had to turn back and rest in Oakhurst, replacing the newly-hired men-at-arms. Even faithful and brave Asglad had fallen in that fight.

Back in the maze, the party explored the long hallway they’d found earlier, where they’d trapped a handful of ghouls in a small room by spiking the door. They passed that door but began forcing another, which unfortunately alerted the dormant ghouls, who erupted from their room just as the new door was bashed through, and the party found itself fighting on two fronts! The barbarian was paralyzed by a ghoul, and even the shaman’s titanic owl was unable to hold off the creatures. Things were looking grim indeed, as various adventurers looked for escape routes. Heinrich glanced furtively at the bag of holding and wondered if he could survive inside of it until the zombies and ghouls lost interest in eating his companions and wandered off, but then he remembered that Stinking Cloud can affect even the undead. The spell turned the tide of the battle, and just in time, too.
The party was badly shaken by this close shave but decided to press on, and finally came to a barred door. The barbarian tried to hack his way through the door, and they could see through a hole that a horde of skeletons and an Orcus-priest were in the room. A confused melee took place as the skeletons stabbed at the party with spears through the hole, but finally the door was opened. It was another hard fight, even though Septimus the elementalist destroyed the bulk of the skeletons with his Burning Hands, for the Orcus-priest Held the necromancer and a man-at-arms, and the barbarian fled, under the influence of a Command from the priest. The Elf nightblade and the shaman found themselves in the thick of the fighting, and managed to wear down the evil cleric. Having thoroughly searched the cleric’s chamber, the party found a monolith inscribed in many languages, and took rubbings to study and perhaps sell back in Wolverton. Though their loot bags seemed lighter than they hoped (even with the severed head they’d collected from the cleric) they decided it was good time to return to the safety of civilization, and so ends the fourth session.