Shaman 1, Rom (Galen)
Witch 1, Freya (Dave) R.I.P.
Fighter 1, Tamos (Dave)
Barbarian 1, ? (Nathan)
Mage 1, Jay, (Breanna)
Assassin 1, Tate, (Jackie)
Cleric 1, Selma, (Haley)
Dwarven Fury 1, Urist, (Katherine)
So. I've got a party of players that are all relatively new to RPGs in general, and completely new to ACKS. The first session we mostly did character creation and they did a simple caravan run where they went from point A to point B and fought some snow beetles along the way. Naturally, the witch managed to take a hit, roll terribly for mortal wounds, and lose her eyes. Luckily, I'd planned to introduce a friendly high level cleric NPC, so he Restored Life and Limb for free. (My long term game plan with this guy is that he worships a non-imperial god, so he'll eventually be captured and burned at the stake.) The party is very suspicious of him, but as a renegade apostate, he's reluctant to say much. The witch resolves to find out as much as she can.
Second session opens with them in the town. I start with some lighthearted fun and establishing sense of place; they go to a tavern and compete in an event called Bearoke wherein participants (mostly panzerbjorn, armored anthropomorphic polar bears) try to out-yell each other while also throwing themselves against each other with their hands tied behind their back. It's like a vaguely musical sumo. The party participates and gets wrecked by bears, but earns the crowd's approval for their bravery, and the party picks up a 0th level hench who is eager to become an adventurer.
The hench also informs them of the first dungeon, Snow Beetle Cave. There's a bounty on snow beetles in these parts, as they're an invasive species, so it's good money. They buy the hench chainmail and set off. (A little background: Snow Beetle Cave is, unbeknownst to anyone, not just a cave where the beetles hang out for some reason. The wizard who runs the country is explicitly seeding the far north with them in an attempt to soften resistance before he moves the borderlands up. At this time, however, another faction within the empire has realized the beetles are semi-magical creatures and worth harvesting, so there's a minor war going on in the dungeon. Plus the beetles are running amok, so it's a 3 way melee.)
Thus begins the most ill-fated dungeon adventure I've ever run. It starts when the party successfully recognizes my crushing-ceiling trap, but are then unsure what exactly the trap is, so they send their mule down the hallway to get pulped. Waste of a good mule. Then, once they find the pressure plate, rather than simply avoid stepping on it in the future, they put a boulder on it so that the ceiling constantly falls, slowly returns to full height, and then falls again. Then they simple duck under it while it's still climbing and scurry to the other side. The dungeon is now constantly booming as this slab of rock falls over and over again.
A random encounter with a couple soldiers begins. The peasant-hench takes a hit. The witch's player comments "I bet he's going to be super freaked out when I heal him!" and I respond "Actually, Aaron's seen all this before. He starts telling you about one time when he was a kid and-" the witch's player interrupts me "Oh no, I'm not getting attached to this kid by hearing his backstory. He's probably going to get pulped by the next falling ceiling" thus neatly preventing me from telling him that Aaron is familiar with the mysterious cleric that he recently swore to investigate.
They find a locked door, but don't have a thief and decide smashing it down will take too long and be too risky, so they bypass the first treasure room. I also included a magical drilling engine in the dungeon, which I anticipated them doing one of three things with:
1. Simply remove the (ten at start, get used up as they fiddle with it) crystals powering it and sell them for 100 gp each. 1000 free gold if they take the safe path.
2. Figure out how to use the drill, gleefully splatter one or two rooms worth of enemies before it runs out of juice.
3.Use the drill on the cave-in near the entrance to unlock a whole new area (Specifically, a literal goldmine. I thought it'd be neat if they cleared the dungeon and then turned it into a legitimate business operation.)
Instead, they took a long, hard look at it, debated, and chose not to interact with it.
Next they encountered the body of one of the wizards who had been running the establishment being devoured by beetles. Since the beetles are relatively grouped, they open with a volley of military oil, neatly destroying the free spellbook and scrolls I had planted on the corpse.
Finally, they proc their second random encounter of the night and a group of raider-berserkers show up. They roll low for reaction, but recognize the party as not-soldiers, so they offer to let the party live if they turn over the beetles they already killed. The party begins talking amongst themselves about what to do. I warn the party the berserkers are not patient people. The party continues their huddle. I start counting down. I reach zero. Combat begins, and since the party failed to commit to fighting, I let the 'zerkers get an init boost. In the ensuing melee, the witch is killed. Aaron the henchpeasant is promoted to PC. (I even raise him to 1st level for free!)
The party leaves the dungeon with about 400gp worth of bloodstained chainmail, swords, and beetle parts. Of course, they can only sell one sword per week and one chainmail per month in the class 5 town they're in, so they collect 100xp each immediately and the actual 100gp each will gradually trickle in. All the players are laughing at their lack of fortune and having a great time, but the party resolves to never return to that cursed place.
I have no idea what I'm going to do about next week, but I'm excited for it.