Tuesday, March 29, 2011

[D&D] The Mystery of the Missing Mage (part 4)

The kids have been doing pretty well up to this point. They've managed to all stay conscious despite having mostly single-digit hit points and THACO scores at or close to 20. They've started to get the hang of some of their abilities - the mage has burned off all of his spells, the thief checks every door before they go through, and the warrior chops things into quivering bloody sushi as soon as it steps within reach. They've cleared the entire top level of the dungeon and, thanks to an orc stumbling on them, they've discovered the secret door to level 2. They've even managed to kill off half the guards in the first room of level 2, since those were the orcs who came up to investigate. The thief has found an "especially nice" dagger, but has no idea whether it's magical, cursed, or just well-crafted. They're all at full health thanks to their fortuitous find of minor healing potions (see previous article for the recipe!) and they're ready to move on (though the mage could really use some sleep to get his spells back).

Their foray into level 2 begins with the orc guard room. They dispatch the inhabitants, one of whom is already injured since he's the one who ran away from their fight upstairs. At long last, they've found a reasonably safe place where they can sleep. By the time they wake up, they're at full health, the mage is able to re-learn his spells, and the rest of the dungeon beckons. Can they save poor Heather before the dungeon's inhabitants decide to eat her... or worse?

The very next room is a torture chamber, where they release poor Ableforth, a merchant, from his bondage and heal his wounds. He's been delirious with pain for days, but he dimly recalls seeing a human female somewhat recently, a prisoner of the horrible orcs who've been abusing him. The kindly adventurers escort Ableforth safely out of the dungeon complex and send him on his way. He assures them that should they find themselves in the port of Scarsdale, he and his family will treat them very generously at their shop.

Back down to level 2, the party bursts into two different goblin guard quarters. They manage to defeat both groups (separately), however their attack rolls are pitiful. I've rarely seen a 20-sided die produce more single-digit numbers than I did during that session. They managed to roll 1s several times, nearly maiming each other worse than their enemies. Of course the mage did manage to roll a natural 20 - when he was making a wisdom check to heal the warrior. That's at least the second time he's blown his wisdom check with a natural 20, which I've ruled results in 0-3 points of additional damage done. They ended up blowing the rest of their healing potions, PLUS I put a full healing potion on the orc sub-leader in the second room since the warrior was hovering at 1 health and was nearly knocked unconscious by the mage's inexpert medical care.

Despite their bad rolls, they fought fairly well. I'm especially impressed with my youngest - he has a natural affinity for numbers and a logical mind, and he's the only one of the three who consistently remembers to modify his initiative rolls with his dexterity bonus without having to be told to do it. The mage actually managed to bring down the sub-leader nearly by himself, starting with a magic missile in the eye and following up with a well-swung quarterstaff.

So they're still in the dungeon, victorious and healthy, but they still have not found the source of their quest - the poor, missing farmgirl. Plus, there's been no sign of the "missing mage" who's named so prominently in the adventure's title. So much still to come!

Meanwhile, I've found two other adventures that are suitable for 1st-level characters, both of which take place in a city and/or its sewer system. I'm starting to get those ready for when this adventure is complete. Luckily, I found a place online where all of the old Dungeon magazines are available in .pdf format. It's probably illegal for the site to have those there, however since I actually OWN copies of all those issues, I'm comfortable that I'm morally in the clear. Having the materials electronically beats the hell out of digging out my old boxes of magazines and thumbing through them, that's for sure!

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