The Maze du Châtel

Why did I think eight players was a good idea? Anyway …

The base setting is pseudo-Frankish, except with demi-french place names inherited from an “ancient empire,” and medieval aristocratic titles so my players can follow the political action without going cross-eyed.

The starting location is the large borderlands village of Châtel (250 families, class V, 20 years old, river bank, forest, hilly). Economy -2 precious metals, textiles, furs, and wood; -1 tea and coffee; +1 pottery, spices, and silk; and +2 monster parts.

Lord Corbus is the reason for that last one. Twenty years ago, Corbus du Châtel founded a wilderness sanctum upon an ancient hill, with an interior of granite and cave-riddled limestone. Into this interior, he hired excavators, miners, and architects, to clear out and then expand into a dungeon of many levels. Each year he would dig deeper, until a vast maze stretched down into what some believe is the very bowels of hell itself. And then he disappeared into his tower for a decade to do research, leaving the maze warrens to lie fallow and fill to brim with monstrous beings.

When he decided it was quite thoroughly stocked, Corbus took soldiers and cleared the entrance of villainy, and built and conquered a highway through the wilderness to the nearby borderlands, to allow adventurers to come and explore his dungeon. Every so often, he “restocks,” or closes it for a while to lie fallow.

Basina de Brienne, an enterprising merchant, set up a shop at the entrance, and the village formed around her entry monopoly (she’s also a thief-7 and local representative of a kingdom-spanning Night Guild, but that’s less well known). The wizard does not seem to mind.

A few days ago, the maze was re-opened for business, and today the Grim Fist, a small group of adventurers with their heads full of the last big success story at the Maze du Châtel, has decided to make their fortune here.

Characters were rolled as Kings (roll 5 chars, pick one, re-roll two abilities), but are first level. No demihumans were allowed (but elven bloodline was). The only classes allowed were the core classes, assassin, and illusionist. The players almost universally sacrificed non-prime-requisites to get their prime requisite up to the +10% XP level, which amused me.

  • Radegund d'Antioch - Neutral Fighter, 22, Combat Reflexes, Survival. STR +2, CON -1, CHA +1. A tall, red-headed spitfire with the muscle to back her temper, but somewhat delicate health.
  • Chlodomer d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter, 18, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield). STR +2, CHA +3. Tall and young, with dark curls and soulful brown eyes ... and a ready smile. A poetic tongue and idealist's heart make him more dangerous out of combat than in.
  • Samson d'Orléans - Neutral Assassin, 22, Disguise, Swashbuckling. STR +2, DEX +2. A blue-eyed, tousle-headed peasant of very ordinary appearance.
  • Brunegard de Jouy - Neutral Fighter, 21, Combat Reflexes, Trapping. STR +2, CON +1. A large peasant woman with dirty blonde hair and dull blue eyes. Looks like she would have made a good viking, and sometimes acts the part.
  • Grimoald d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter, 23, Combat Reflexes, Naturalism. STR +3, WIS +1, CHA +1. As large and muscular as an ox, reasonably pretty ... a blond farmboy, all grown up.
  • Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage, 20, Elven Bloodline, Engineering x4. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +3, CHA +1. Pointed ears, eyes the color of hoarfrost, ankle-length hair the color of a raven's wing, and a distant, wintry smile. She's smarter than you, and she knows it.
  • Vulfelind de Saubruic - Neutral Thief, 16, Tracking, Weapon Finesse. DEX +3, INT -1, CHA +2. Tall and slender, with enormous black eyes, dark olive skin, and black hair cropped as close as possible, with a calming, professional demeanor that far belies her years and a smile that is absolutely dazzling when it appears.
  • Lotharic le Brun - Lawful Cleric, 20, Divine Blessing, Healing x3. STR +1, INT +2, WIS +2. A sorrowful looking young man with a peasant's tan, muddy brown eyes, and a dominating nose, dressed in the livery of a priest of recent vintage. He cares deeply about people, and has an intuition for the right thing to do.
The "default" background I gave them was childhood friends born in Antioch, but a few wanted to come from other cities, which was fine. Main point for me was that they all knew and trusted each other, because I wasn't herding cats, and they agreed to that.

I gave them all max gold - they’ll have more than that after the first day of adventuring, and “scrimping” on that first foray isn’t our thing; we just assumed that the party had already made ONE foray somewhere else, and blown the extra cash celebrating their first real victory.

Session record from last night to follow soon.

The party arrives as Lord Corbus finishes a chat with Basina. They wait respectfully while the two say their goodbyes, and then sign up for dungeon entrance, drop their two gold coins in fees, buy the map currently on offer (Basina also has maps from the last major expedition, but “Lord Corbus changes the layout during fallow periods, so the old maps are usually worthless”), and plan their attack.

Galswintha analyzes the map from an architectural standpoint (“a random, inchoate design, by someone who mistook a mishmash of styles for eclectism”). The others just look at the map and talk. Rumors indicate that the area that is mapped … is also picked clean. So the main discussion is the safest route to un-mapped regions.

Plan in hand, they head down the entrance tunnel …

Room 1

The first room puts lie to the rumors. An adventurer’s corpse, dressed in shabby leather and carrying only a sword and shield, lies on the ground, splattered in a brown emulsion.

One leg is obviously broken, but no other cause of death is evident. They decide to bypass it, and keep some distance as they walk around the edge of the limestone room. They are most of the way in when they see the gray, stone-like cricket the size of a dog, preening itself against a stalactite.

Quietly, Samson readies his bow. The rest of the party follows suit, and all fire simultaneously … or near enough. The cricket leaps as they attack, and only Radegund, Samson, and Vulfelind hit aught but stone, but it’s enough, and the cricket lands, dead, against the opposite wall, missing Lotharic by inches. (They stuff the corpse in Brunegard’s pack.)

They decide against checking the corpse for loot, and are about to move on, when Vulfelind spots a catch in the stone - something most parties would not have been close enough to see, were they not trying to walk around the edge of the walls.

She messes with it, and a supporting column rotates around, revealing a narrow passage and a bend. After several attempts to look into the next room without actually going through the door, Brunegard shoves her way through, then comes back out.

“Suit of armor sitting in a chair. Some kind of board game in front of it, one hand resting on a small chest. Two doors beyond. What looks like a switch for the column, but someone smarter than me should check it.”

Discussion, wavering, … and then they hear footsteps approaching from the entrance. Another party! They rush through the column door, and Vulfelind pulls the switch Brunegard was talking about. The column silently rotates back into place, concealing the door once again.

Only then do they really look at the room they are now potentially stuck in.

Room 36

The board game turns out to be a simple war game of stones on hexes, vaguely familiar to Chlodomer (who knows only that some nobility play it) and completely opaque to the others. The full plate armor does not move, but then, no one approaches it.

As they are looking, the stone-muffled sound of retching can be faintly heard in the room with the corpse and dead cricket.

Galswintha updates the map they bought, and decides that the left-hand door is the better bet. They carefully work their way around the armor and board game, Vulfelind examines and listens at the door … and onward they go.

Entrance to Room 36a (WIC)

Opening the door, a chill breeze stirs out and four twisted, emaciated creatures (vaguely human-looking) creak as their heads turn and eyes begin to glow a dull red.

“WIGHTS!” shouts Lotharic - perhaps more of a squeak than a shout - and immediately thrusts his holy symbol at them, squeaking (definitely a squeak this time) “Lady protect us!”

Surprisingly, the creatures hiss … and all but one back away from the cleric! Sadly, the one who resists leaps for Lotharic’s throat, and he barely keeps it at bay, stumbling backward into the war game table and knocking stones about.

The armor begins to stand up.

A Battle with Two Sides

Chlodomer and Brunegard step in the wight’s path and attack (both miss), while Samson and Vulfelind attempt to maneuver behind it … without getting too close to its turned comrades.

Galswintha lets loose with a bolt of sorcerous mist, which slows it briefly, but mostly alerts it to the presence of a mage.

The animate armor brings a fist down on Lotharic, knocking him off the table and hurting him quite badly. Radegund changes targets, and nails the armor with her greatsword, a blow that would fell any member of the party instantly. It stumbles, just a bit, and Grimoald follows suit, but misses by a country mile.

Lotharic, struggling to his feet, swings his mace, but the angle is bad, and it glances harmlessly off. The wight does not notice. It focuses on Galswintha, bringing its twisted, clawed hand to her pale, frightened face …

Galswintha ages a decade in a heartbeat, but clings to life furiously.

Chlodomer misses again, but Brunegard hits, bringing her massive claymore down across the wight’s left arm, splintering bone … but still it stands. Samson moves in with both swords and stabs it in the back, but still it stands. And Vulfelind follows suit, and still it stands.

Galswintha then, feebly, brings her staff up into its nose … and finds a weak spot in the skull. The horrid thing collapses at her feet, then collapses into itself and turns to dust.

The animate armor turns on Radegund, and punches her hard at a hip joint in her armor. She groans, but remains standing, and her sword never waivers.

With the wight down, however, the armor doesn’t stand a chance. The party surrounds it and commences a beatdown until it ceases moving; and then moves on to the cowering wights, whom they slaughter as rapidly as they can.

Galswintha, her voice quavering, “I would like to return for rest, now.”

Lotharic attends to all wounds (though he can do nothing for Galswintha), then they loot the wight chamber (which, among other things, has a scroll), and grab the chest, the gameboard, stones, and - in a loot-brained frenzy - the table, chair, and formerly animate armor.

Vulfelind listens at the column door carefully, declares the path clear, and they retreat, carefully closing the door behind them. Stepping past the puddles of vomit (they note that the corpse has been dragged off by … something), they make their way back to the surface.

(OOC Note: Energy Drain has been replaced with 1d20 years of aging and a save vs. death. I personally hate dealing with level loss - for me, at least, even a dying character is more fun.)

Day 2, Room 1

The party breezes through the entrance tunnel until they reach Room 1, where they find a singular goblin, muttering to itself and scraping up dried vomit. Galswintha notices that it is well-dressed for a goblin (fitted cotton tunic, cute little pants, sandals) and unarmed, and stops the party for a moment to talk to it.

“Hello, little one, do you have a name?”

It peers up at her suspiciously, “Grizzba. You gone fight me?”

“Not if we don’t have to - I’m Galswintha. Are you … are you actually working for Lord Corbus?”

“Beats gone hungry. Beats gone dead.” The goblin pauses, its yellow eyes narrowing, “What you want?”

“I … nothing, at the moment. I’m just a bit stunned. I would not have thought …”

At that point, the party starts arguing about what to do about the goblin. Vulfelind and Galswintha want to see if it can act as a guide; no one else thinks it can be trusted far enough to swing by its neck from a rope without stabbing someone in the back.

Finally, the goblin tugs at Galswintha’s robes, “Lady? I gotta job already. You don’ gotta argue with your friends.” A brief pause, then, “An’ if you need guide, maybe a maze not the best place for you.”

Brunegard bellows out a laugh, and slaps Galswintha on the back, “Runt’s got you there!”

Lotharic still doesn’t want to leave the goblin behind to tell the rest of his warband where they are, but finds himself out-voted. Brunegard puts it simply, “It’s making sure we don’t step in vomit, for Lady’s sake, and you want to kill it?”

Still, they wait for the goblin to finish cleaning and leave before they open the secret door and slip back into the now-empty “room of the animate armor.”

Room 36

The door to the wight’s room is still open; the door on the right is still closed.

A skeleton in a suit of cheap leather armor sits cross-legged at a ragged square of cloth, with pebbles in place of the nicer stones the original game board had. There is no chest.

After a long, careful stare, Vulfelind declares that the pieces are in the same positions as they were the previous day. Grimoald taps Lotharic on the shoulder, “Don’t knock this one over.” Lotharic just sighs sorrowfully.

This time the party gets into combat formation before opening the door on the right. Vulfelind checks the door, hears nothing, and they open it … and beyond see a shadowed, narrow room with three large pillars on each side.

They step in.

Room 37

As they finish entering the room, eight skeletons step out from between the pillars, four on each side, and begin attacking.

And mostly miss, although Grimoald and Vulfelind both hurt.

Galswintha retreats into the animate armor room, holding her cut arm and cursing undead of all flavors; Radegund and Chlodomer both decapitate their attacker; and most of the rest of the party at least damage their foes. Another couple passes and the fight is over. Lotharic checks everyone for damage and cinches his status as one of the best physicians in town.

Checking the room with better light, they find eight alcoves (empty and unadorned), symbols carved into the floor, and a red “X” above the door at the far end.

After some debate, they form up, and open the door …

Room 38 Entrance: Stair and Dome

Through the door is a spiral staircase down into an open, vaulted dome roughly three stories high. A smashed statue lies in the center of the room, and six doors, each 60 degrees apart, face outward from the center.

The ceiling has a painting (life-sized!) of a dragon spread across a flat rock and conversing with a nymph.

After further debate about the meaning of the red “X”, they decide to leave the room alone, re-shut the door, and then spike it shut.

They return to what Grimoald is now calling “the vomit goblin room.”

Rooms 2, 3, 5, 8, And 11

Moving along from the entrance room to the publicly-known antechamber, the party follows their map to the estimated “unvisited” area with reasonable safety. In the spot marked Room 11, there are two doors marked, one visible, one secret … and no rooms mapped beyond.

A failed attempt to pick the lock of the visible door, or FIND the hidden one. A lack of sounds heard (“but the door looks heavy enough to block quiet sounds”).

A show of hands. A girding of loins. Grimoald kicks open the door.

(OOC: I’m pretty sure I looked a little too gleeful here - the players got REAL cautious all of a sudden, before they finally got up the guts to go through the door.)

Room 17
Three ogres sit in a ragged circle. The biggest one is rolling a carved goblin skull when the door slams open.

The ogres stare, open-mouthed with surprise. The smallest one, missing an eye, casually and stealthily tips the skull onto a different side while the larger one is distracted.

The party attacks.

Vulfelind and Samson move first, in what appears to be a pre-planned tandem, and stab the biggest, snick snick deep into his torso, and very nearly kill him … and Galswintha finishes the job with her sorcerous mist.

As his body is falling, Brunegard and Chlodomer do act in tandem; Brunegard tackles the mid-sized ogre and knocks him prone, and Chlodomer kicks his club out of reach.

Radegund, Grimoald, and Lotharic all fall upon the prone, surprised ogre and he dies swiftly and messily.

And then the one-eyed runt … flees. Although, Vulfelind later notes with some satisfaction, not without grabbing his and the larger ogre’s treasure sacks in a smooth, practiced motion that belies years of being the smallest, greediest ogre in the tribe.

That’s when they discover the dead ogres weigh 69 and 81 stone each. Several minutes are spent discussing everyone’s worthlessness as beasts of burden, and then they decide to try tying the two ogres together and dragging them rather than carrying them.

The. Entire. Way. Back.

This takes a very long time, but they manage it, although they have to untie and retie them twice due to narrow doors. But no one bothers the party, and eventually they make it to the entrance to sell the corpses.

Grimoald grins and quips, “Good thing one of them got away, eh?”

End Session.

End Session Notes

The scroll turned out to be a simple parchment with a long, crooked line dotted at regular intervals. Very mysterious.

Both days, the party did poorly on the monster parts sale value, getting 80% and 70% of the average value of the corpses, respectively.

Galswintha is now 30 years old. If she survives another wight attack, there will likely be ability score penalties.

The party missed at least two secrets because no one had the right proficiency (in this case, Strategy and Theology). They may find them later.

XP 421 each; haul, 332 gold, 6 copper each. A little anemic on the treasure, partly because of the skeletons and the one-eyed runt ogre running off with the party’s “fair share.”

Great session update! Sounds like a total blast.

One quick note - if Galswintha has Elven Bloodline she shouldn't suffer the normal aging penalties of a human. She'd age as an elf instead.

Alex wrote: One quick note - if Galswintha has Elven Bloodline she shouldn't suffer the normal aging penalties of a human. She'd age as an elf instead.
That is an excellent point, and one Galswintha's player forgot about. I think she'll be pleased when we meet again next week - elven bloodline is apparently an (almost) free pass against energy drain under my house rule.

Of course, now Lotharic’s going to want to throw her under the bus every time they face wights, as a meat shield for the poor, crunchy fighters … >:->

Wait, Illusionist? Wherefrom cometh this class?

jedavis wrote: Wait, Illusionist? Wherefrom cometh this class? - Under Supplemental Rules, “Illusionist Optional Rule.”

It includes the class, spell list, and a number of new spells.

Some adjustments:

Spoke with Galswintha’s player about aging. Here’s the revised character:

  • Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage, 20(30), Elven Bloodline, Engineering x3. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. An apparent teenager with pointed ears, eyes the color of hoarfrost, ankle-length hair the color of a raven's wing, and a distant, wintry smile. She's smarter than you, and she knows it.

One-Eyed Runt
Originally just a low roll on hit points, in play he acquired a fair amount of personality for a two-round showing. In my long tradition of GMing, that means it’s time to stat him up a bit more and make him more interesting.

… especially since two players have emailed me their plans to find him again (one wants to get “their” loot back, the other wants to see if he’s civilizable).

I’ve decided to give him thief abilities equivalent to his hit dice (including attack and saving throws) and two proficiencies. It’s short, sweet, and makes him a worthy opponent/ally, without breaking the existing ogre too much. I’ve also dropped his STR to 17 (“scrawny”) and upped his DEX to 17 (improving his overall AC), which will make him a little less scary unless he backstabs … but will also improve his survivability slightly.

Had two sessions this weekend - two players dropped out after Saturday’s session, and the smaller remaining group was up for another round of ACKS. However, I am out of time this evening, so the write-up may have to wait for Tuesday.

We’ve been having a real blast with ACKS, though. Thanks!

Session 2
Day 3
The party takes a day off for Vulfelind to heal.

Vulfelind and Galswintha share costs on buying a war dog, and then proceed to pamper it. Lotharic visits the church. Samson, Radegund, Chlodomer, Brunegard, and Grimoald share rounds at The Limping Rat Tavern.

Day 4
The party explores further, comes to a decision point: chittering voices to the left, silence to the right. Galswintha wants to go right; everyone else, left.

Left is kobolds, whom they mostly slaughter: one begs for its life, the other flees … and dies (noisily) beyond the door.

While the party bickers, skeletons march in. Lots of them. The party beats a fighting retreat, slams the door, flees … gets lost, falls down a slide pit, and finds themselves in another section of the maze.

Between kobold wounds, skeleton wounds, and the fall, Samson dies outright of a crushed skull; Radegund lands on a hand, crushing it beyond Lotharic’s ability to repair; and Vulfelind cracks her chin open, leaving a minor scar. Everyone is hurt, however, and Lotharic can’t heal everyone, so Galswintha goes without, “I’m dead if someone gets near me anyway - fix the front line first.” Lotharic and Grimoald, the next least injured, go without as well.

The party argues about where they are and how to get back. Vulfelind draws a line-map of directions taken from memory … and Chlodomer, staring at it, pulls out the scroll with a crooked line, “I wonder if the dots are distance intervals?”

Their immediate problems forgotten, the party puzzles out the scroll line-map, matching it to their map … and discover a secret door they missed. Which brings them back to that immediate problems: getting out.

Vulfelind finally manages to wall-climb up the slide (crawling along the less-slick wall) and drops a rope down.

Everyone wants to know why the whole party fell into the pit, and some examination tells the story.

The room with the illusory floor has two counterweights - one just outside the room and one inside. Any weight outside the door at all locks the metal floor into place; any weight on the metal floor drops it into “slide” position, unless it is currently locked. One person standing outside the room makes the room safe, but as soon as they step in, everyone falls. The illusion covers the suspicious-looking, slick metal floor with an image of ordinary damp cobblestones.

The players comment, once again, that Corbus has a few loose gears in his head.

They hike back to their supposed secret door and search with little luck until Chlodomer decides to push every stone on the wall, working his way from top to bottom and left to right.

Which does find the secret door … and opens it! Two kobolds spot the adventurers and flee down a hall, yipping warnings. With a sheepish grin, Chlodomer pushes the stone again. The door shuts.

The Grim Fist flee for their lives once again, but this time they return to the surface.

In town, they strip Samson down and sell his gear to pay for a funeral. No priests powerful enough to restore life are in the village, and no larger towns are within a short enough travel distance - and they definitely don’t have the funds for a long-distance, two-way trip.

End Session Notes
XP 57 each (including 25 XP bonus for map puzzle). No treasure aside from Samson’s gear, which they mostly spent on a funeral. Samson is dead and buried.

Samson’s player decided to drop out at this point - he was hoping for a more political-from-the-outset game (Disguise is not exactly helpful against kobolds), and Samson biting the big hand in the sky is a pretty good stopping point.

Brunegard’s player also dropped out - her job changed her hours. I really miss not having to worry about that sort of thing. Her character “wanders off” while they’re back in town.

Session 3
Days 5, 6, and 7
Healing and recovery; plus an extra day to get some tasks taken care of. Radegund swaps out her weapon selection, commissions a hook hand, and chats with people all over town. Galswintha plays with the war dog and follows Vulfelind around town.

Grizzba. Chlodomer and Grimoald try to track down “the vomit goblin,” meet with dismal failure, suspect “guild business,” and ask Vulfelind to look into it for them. Vulfelind tracks down Grizzba (and pays a slightly-overdue guild tax) and arranges a meeting. Meanwhile, Chlodomer has a heart-to-heart with Lotharic, and Lotharic agrees to let Grizzba bring ruin and shame upon the party before he kills her (approximately his words). Chlodomer offers Grizzba standard hench rates, and between his CHA +3 and a small bonus for treating a goblin like a human being, manages fanatical loyalty!

  • Grizzba the Goblin - Neutral Goblin Hench (0th), 16, Caving, Mapping. STR -1, DEX +2, INT +1, CHA -1. A well-dressed goblin (fitted tunic, pants, sandals) with a pointy sense of humor.

Lotharic visits the local medical ward and offers his services, and starts to ask questions about the local goblin. He doesn’t much like the reply: “Which one?”

Day 8
The party buys an updated map from Basina and is disheartened to find that their secret wargame room was found; but the other secrets they know are still clear. Grizzba is discovered to understand maps, and she fills in a few empty spots on the map, although not the connecting passages.

Why? Because Corbus built servant corridors into the top levels of the maze. They’re tiny and require a talisman to pass through, but there you go.

They head back into the maze, and go back to the secret door at the base of the stairwell - that’s where their line map leads, darnit, and that’s where they’re going to go.

Chlodomer parleys with the kobolds this time, and pulls it off, if by the skin of his teeth. The Grim Fist will be allowed safe passage to the next spot on the line map, in return for not brandishing weapons, murdering lots of kobolds, or telling anyone else where the kobold lair is.

The line map takes the party to a tight, narrow, scary-looking stairwell down.

The party descended and with the tenacity that only comes from ignorance, fought their way through a gang of ogres, carried the corpses back, and then returned to find another two gangs of ogres investigating the scene of the previous fight … including the one-eyed runt, who squealed something in ogrish, and all hell broke loose.

The party fled to a narrow door, where Radegund managed a perfect crossbow shot, switched to her mace, and held off two ogres at the door long enough for Galswintha to kill one of them. Then the whole party dropped their packs and ran, with a parting shot from an ogre finally killing Radegund.

They had to leave the bodies of Radegund and the war dog (who took a hit for Vulfelind near the start of the fight, and whose armor slowed it down too much to outrun the ogres).

… and then Chlodomer had to give the fast-talk of his life, when they tried to pass through the kobold territory looking ill-equipped to handle a fight. He managed it, but it was obvious that the kobolds were going to try something sneaky and nasty the next time through.

Still, they returned with all but Radegund (and dog). And missing most of their backpack-contained gear.

Galswintha and Vulfelind pinky-swear vengeance on the ogres. Everyone mourned.

Weeks 2 and 3 (End Day 21)
We ended the session with another two weeks passing, so that some long-term things could be done. Galswintha wanted to see if another war dog could be found; Vulfelind wanted to hire a hench; and so on.

End Session Notes
XP 785 each; haul, 476 gold, including corpses and map sales. Grizzba received 163 XP (1/2 share of kills award + 76 gold) and made level 1. I decided she would progress as a thief rather than a fighter, however - her background (and her contacts with the guild) imply that she had close-enough training already. Chlodomer gave money to Vulfelind to “equip Grizzba well,” and so she did.

After replenishing their packs, that leaves them with approximately 1,000 gold each, which they put in safe-keeping with Basina.

Vulfelind just tipped over second level. Radegund’s player rolled up Lanthechilde (who is presented as a friend of Chlodomer’s who was arriving late to the party). A few party members aquired henches, pulling from the military population of the village.

The party as they stand now (including 10% XP bonuses):

  • Chlodomer d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter, 18, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield). STR +2, CHA +3. Tall and young, with dark curls and soulful brown eyes ... and a ready smile. A poetic tongue and idealist's heart make him more dangerous out of combat than in. XP 1,389.
    • Grizzba the Goblin - Neutral Goblin Thief, 16, Caving, Mapping, Weapon Finesse. STR -1, DEX +2, INT +1, CHA -1. A well-dressed goblin with a pointy sense of humor. XP 69. Morale +6 (Chlodomer CHA +3, fanatic +2, levels +1, calamities +0).
  • Grimoald d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter, 23, Combat Reflexes, Naturalism. STR +3, WIS +1, CHA +1. As large and muscular as an ox, reasonably pretty ... a blond farmboy, all grown up. XP 1,389.
    • Alaric du Châtel - Lawful Heavy Infantry, 19, Combat Reflexes. STR +1, DEX +1, CON -1, WIS -2, CHA -1. A pudding-faced peasant with poor manners, but a strong back and a strong desire to help. XP -100. Morale +1 (Grimoald CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0).
  • Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage, 30, Elven Bloodline, Engineering x3. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. An apparent teenager with pointed ears, eyes the color of hoarfrost, ankle-length hair the color of a raven's wing, and a distant, wintry smile. She's smarter than you, and she knows it. XP 1,389.
  • Vulfelind de Saubruic - Neutral Thief-2, 16, Tracking, Weapon Finesse. DEX +3, INT -1, CHA +2. Tall and slender, with enormous black eyes, dark olive skin, and black hair cropped as close as possible, with a calming, professional demeanor that far belies her years and a smile that is absolutely dazzling when it appears. XP 1,389.
    • Thorismund du Châtel - Neutral Slinger, 22, Animal Husbandry. STR +2, INT -2, WIS +1, CHA +2. A mercenary with craggy good looks and a kind heart, but no head for math. XP -100. Morale +4 (Vulfelind CHA +2, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0).
    • Ingunde du Châtel - Neutral Slinger, 18, Animal Husbandry x2. STR -2, DEX +1, CON -1, INT +1, CHA +2. A stunningly good-looking mercenary and wife to Thorismund. Does the finances for the household. XP -100. Morale +4 (Vulfelind CHA +2, fanatic +2, levels +0, calamities +0).
  • Lotharic le Brun - Lawful Cleric, 20, Divine Blessing, Healing x3. STR +1, INT +2, WIS +2. A sorrowful looking young man with a peasant's tan, muddy brown eyes, and a dominating nose, dressed in the livery of a priest of recent vintage. He cares deeply about people, and has an intuition for the right thing to do. XP 1,389.
  • Lanthechilde d'Antioch - Neutral Thief, 20, Healing x2, Intimidation. STR +1, DEX +2, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1, CHA +2. A low-level version of Rebecca de Mornay's character in The Three Musketeers, before she has her heart broken. Soft-spoken and kind, but a little too clever with the daggerwork. XP 0.

I love the flavor of yor camaign. Great stuff. With the two players who have dropped out, you're really at more of an ideal party size, especially with henchmen.

Six players is feeling a lot more manageable. I’m not very good at saying “no.”

This has also been my first DMing run in quite some time.

A few too many weren’t able to make it Saturday or Sunday, so Chlodomer, Grimoald, and Lotharic - rather, their players - and I hung out. Some questions came up about the campaign, and they seemed to me useful information for the whole party, so in lieu of a real update:

  • Dungeon Questions.
    • It does get more dangerous. Yes, the first level was designed by Corbus as a deliberately easy wading pool. He wants would-be adventurers to hit the first couple of rooms and think, "I can do this," not "I wanna go home."
    • Corbus' maze might qualify as a small megadungeon. Kilodungeon?
    • Chlodomer was really curious about the ogres. I tried to avoid spoilers, but at this point, it should be obvious to anyone with a successful Adventering proficiency throw that there has to be an ogre village somewhere ... and ogres are not known for building their villages underground. Yes, that's *&^%ing deadly for level-1 characters, what did the party think they were going to find three levels down in Corbus' maze?
    • On a related note, there are non-maze hooks in the maze, and the maze is primarily intended as an introductory dungeon.
    • Heck yes, Corbus has screws loose.
    • Every secret door and trap has a described mechanism. All of them can be found, opened, and de-activated without a thief in the party. The thief class provides a shortcut. I think a party with no thieves could beat the entire dungeon - a party with thieves will just do it faster.
  • Rules Questions.
    • A finger bone fished out of an ogre belly is sufficient to reincarnate Radegund. Restore life and limb is out of the question.
    • Given a large number of pre-existing skeletons, a fourth level Chaotic cleric can amass a huge army of skeletons ... for 40 minutes. Useful for herding, probably not for long-term siege or similar. But, yeah, herding done right can be downright awesome.
    • Goblins are not inherently evil. They're not even guaranteed to be Chaotic. They just have an extremely strong racial predilection for Chaos (from their 25% troll blood), and a culture that promotes being jerks.
    • The Lady (species goddess generica generica) does not hate goblins. She hates Chaos. Goblins are almost always Chaotic. Unfortunately, barring spells, The Lady does not provide Lotharic with any particular ability to determine whether The Lady hates Grizzba - mortals have to do some of the work themselves.
    • It is theoretically possible that the alignment listing for one or more PCs are lies, lies, lies.
    • The animate armor was a custom creature.
    • The ogre who tipped a die over while Surprised: that was a flavor issue. He may or may not have any special abilities related to Surprise, but the humorous aside of him flipping the die over to favor his side of the game was not a subtle hint of his abilities.

There were probably other questions I forgot about, but those were the ones I noted as broadly applicable when they were asked.

Lotharic quit at the end of the session tonight, and there was drama, so … no update today. I should be feeling better about it and have time on Tuesday. (At this point, I might as well just plan to update on Tuesdays anyway.)