The party spent a decent amount of time screwing around in the Jester’s tomb, making all sorts of wild speculations on the uses of magic jars linked to the Jester’s sarcophagus. Their lengthy arguments were rewarded by an encounter with the wandering party of Cynidicean adventurers who assumed them to be hobgoblins and attacked. The presence of an Elf allowed the party to avert a TPK, as the Elf was able to wake someone who woke the next, etc. It was a near run thing, though.
I’d hope that the party would decide to sock the Jester’s coffin somewhere they’ve cleared out, rather than try to take it to one of the factions’ areas. “Pretty sure the Magi aren’t going to be thrilled that you want to move a sarcophagus into their food store room.” They ultimately decided they’d wait and see before they moved the sarcophagus anywhere.
The party avoided a group of wandering hobgoblins who were on their way to raid a tomb. They went to the obvious skeleton trap (when you see skeletons standing around, what happens next is obvious) and managed to do pretty well. Luckily the skeletons were 1 hp monsters; unfortunately, the 1st level cleric couldn’t roll to turn them until the fight was all but over. Assuming that the mummy was a monster mummy, they torched the corpse of the guard captain from a distance before retrieving his halberd and plate.
At the council of war, the leaders of the 3 factions could naturally not agree on anything, but were able to give the party clues to the main treasure hoard on Tier 4. The Brotherhood of Gorm believe that the best bet to stopping the followers of Zargon are to retrieve the sword and armor of King Alexander so that someone might act as champion against Zargon’s forces. The Sisterhood of Madarua want to retrieve the Sceptre of Queen Zenobia, thinking its powers will aid them. The Magi of Usamigaras have a much more ambitious plan; they’d like to retrieve the crowns of the King and Queen so they can set up a puppet monarchy by claiming some rubes they can control are the reincarnation of the royals and the rebirth of the royal line so that they can either unite the city against the priesthood of Zargon or at least create enough chaos that they can get a leg up on the other three factions.
The party also did quite nicely against the white apes in the Noble’s tomb in the NW and were rewarded with a plus 1 sword. The haunts did their job keeping the party from reaching the royal tomb (and certain death). The fight with ghouls was pretty brutal and very well could’ve been a TPK, but some late lucky rolls joined with my shield-break rules kept the party alive.
The group was a bit happier with the XP haul this time around. We had enough players that I restricted everyone to a single character, so the XP split ended up with around 600+ XP per character. I pointed out that this was also the party’s first real delve outside of “friendly” territory; nevermind that the friendly territory was pretty deadly, too. Thieves and clerics who have been around for all sessions should hit level 2 after next adventure, while fighty-men should be level 2 after maybe two or three more. Elves will never level up, but that’s another story.
The response to the shield rule has been interesting. It has significantly mitigated first level player death. If you look at it in terms of “one hit becomes a miss once”, it doesn’t really seem like that big a change, but it has altered the way the players handle encounters. Those who have shields will take the front line; when a shield breaks, that person will fall back if they can. It also gives the factions a bit of additional relevance; they can provide shields to pcs who’ve joined and sell them to those who haven’t. If anything, it’ll be a small money sink. It’s certainly helped players ease into the brutality of B/X without having the game stall out with irreplaceable character deaths. Because outside of Cynidiceans, who will make up the new party once the original 20 are all dead?