The Ghouls’ Chapel

Last session, we had our largest party yet. One of the new players rolled a Cleric and I convinced another to play a MU to take advantage of the surfeit of scrolls the party had stockpiled.

A player who’d been a Fighter the previous session misplaced his character sheet for a bit (it was found later that evening) so ran a Cleric. The guy whose thief died last session rolled another thief, and we still had a thief who lived and was level 2.

Unfortunately, someone who’d played a fighter last session wasn’t there and had taken his character sheet and the party’s +1/+3 vs undead sword with him.

With some Clerics finally in the party, they had a bit of the benefit of the NPC party being led by a fellow member of the order. They got to know the layout of the lower abbey, some more of its history, and what the order was looking for. I figure I’ll give them more hints as they level up. If they survive…

On the way in, they noticed one of the 4 saint statues at a principal junction had been removed, but more on that later. They found the old abbot’s cell, looting it of some, but not all of its treasure (they missed out on the +1 robes). They also checked various doors that opened onto solid walls of dirt and rocks and figured out that a small central garden had probably been buried with the rest of the temple.

In the well-house, one of the thieves found the “back entrance” to the artificer’s workshop, but determined they’d be unable to easily carry any of the heavy loot through the side tunnel and back up the well. He went back up before any of the metal walkers (think children of Karras)  made their patrols through the room.

The party found a workshop for making soaps using the herbs and flowers from the now-buried garden before checking out the southeast corner of the abbey, which is just above the entrance to the crypts.

Here, there was a room full of smashed up and battered skeletons, all outside a door with the cryptic phrase “Beware the life-curse” and an indistinguishable reference to “the Blessed Resurrection”.

One of the clerics opened the door and stepped into the room, which had a large capstone on the floor with sigils. Nine ghouls sprung out of various alcoves and were all over the cleric. And somehow, out of nearly 30 attacks, all of the ghouls missed! To be fair, the cleric was in plate and had something like AC 1 or 2, but still!

There was a brief argument about the treasure value of scrolls vs. their situational efficacy, which ended in the MU fireballing the room. But with 13 damage rolled, and half of the ghouls making their saves and clinging on with 1 HP, they weren’t out of the woods by a longshot. Oh, and the Cleric was barbecued and the loot from the soap room ruined. The party managed to kill most of the rest of the ghouls, but one lone ghoul kept dodging and taking down party members one-by-one. The MU was prepared to run when the thief finally got him. I would’ve laughed if a single 1HP ghoul had TPKed them after his buddies had all been killed.

The party waited for their paralyzed companions to come round while they gathered the coin treasure that had been scattered throughout the room (the fireball had shattered the jars that coins were in). They left the charred meat of their cleric friend on the capstone to see if that would bring him back to life. I mean, it will, but they’re not doing it right, and when it works, it won’t be what they were hoping for. Other than the faded wraiths guarding the stash of holy equipment, level 2 has been mostly empty. Because as soon as they open that capstone, the abbey will become haunted as fuck when the sealed powers of the least-lich necromancer who’s been buried there will seep out and taint everything.

On the way out of the dungeon, they ran across the NPC party trying to move out the other two statues (this time without the help of the elf’s magic; she’s a scroller and only had one Floating Disc). Unfortunately, the party had their hands full with other loot and were pretty banged up, so they declined to help the NPC party with the last statue. So, they’re slowly losing a chance to get any XP for those, or the saint statues in the library.

Still, the party got a decent haul for the session, with just over 900 XP per person. That was enough to bump the longest-lived thief up to level 3.

The only thing the party has left, really, of the lower abbey is the sealed annex to the artificer’s workshop and the more-or-less empty monks’ cells. If and when they unseal the capstone, there may be more stuff in this level of the dungeon again, but things are pretty cleared.

If I remember, tomorrow I’ll post my map of the lower abbey with my notes for it.

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7 responses to “The Ghouls’ Chapel

  1. I’ve been working on a 5e character generator for ages now, and it’s doing some pretty cool tricks. I originally conceived of it as a DM aid to provide rival NPC adventuring parties. Do you like to run rival adventuring parties? Would you find a utility like that useful if you had one in your edition of choice?

    Thanks,
    –Dither

    • Hey, cool! Yeah, I actually do run a rival adventuring party in this game; I’ve kind of half-assed it because I haven’t had the prep-time to really run them right. So far, I’ve mostly had them as a passive force, cleaning up obvious treasures that the PC party missed first time around (hauling out large statues from a recently cleared area) and offering some tid-bits of information when the party runs into them. Also, a hireling fighter the PCs abandoned ended up joining the NPCs. But I feel like if I weren’t so busy/lazy I could be doing more with them.

    • Sorry for the derp-comment (I’d forgotten which post this was a reply to). But yeah, I’d definitely be interested in seeing what you’d cooked up!

      • I was inspired by the encounter tables in the AD&D DMG to write a program that could roll up NPCs and kit them out. The scope has expanded a great deal since i started.

        For starters, i wanted NPCs to have their own magic gear as appropriate, so I’ve been working on a basic adventure simulation to roll up and assign treasure. And I want the NPC parties to be somewhat organic so I’ve been working on a character matching and party-building system.

        The last couple weeks I’ve been working on an adaptation of Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system to represent dungeon factions. It’s my hope that a lot of the dynamic portions of a megadungeon can be automated (right down to encountering NPC rivals) to make playing a game on that level feasible to groups who don’t necessarily have an obsessive DM willing to manage the details.

        I mean, I’d love to play a dynamic megadungeon with monster factions and whatnot, but I’d have to be the one to run it. If i can write a program to handle a lot of the detail work, maybe i can hand it over to a willing DM.

      • I don’t have a UI yet, because I’m just running the program out of my IDE, but one of my players has done a fair bit of UI work that i might be able to pick her brain for some of the finer points.

        There’s also the matter that none of what I’m generating is stored or reused yet. Even though i have access to everything i need to build a database for the program to store information for future use, I’ve been reluctant to set it up because the program’s output is in such a state of flux.

        Back when i was working on tables and archetypes for generating dungeons, it was on the assumption I’d be doing it by hand. So much of the tedium is removed when a computer automates the process that… well, i haven’t exactly thrown away my previous work, but it’s serving a different purpose now.

        Honestly I’m surprised at how bad software to randomly generate dungeons is. Maybe there are some miracle programs out there that I’ve missed, but it seems like every one I’ve seen has been lacking… what i would consider basic features of a dungeon.

        For example, what good is a floor map without furnishings? And theming or monsters without treasure? It’s like this package deal that you can’t really separate into distinct parts.

        So, I’m making that. An all-in-one kind of dungeon generator, complete with the layout, furnishings, themes, treasure, monsters, rival adventures, dynamic factions… everything. Or as much as i can get to work.

      • Calculating what gear and equipment parties should have is always tricky. I’m sure there’s some guide for it somewhere in the rules, but I haven’t seen it. For instance, my current PC party has several magic items at level 1, but they should also be a 3rd level party (they just kept dying and then the one guy who walked away with all the XP died before enough sessions had passed to get it converted to levels).

        A part of me feels like I should fairly adjudicate a megadungeon, including manually running the NPC party behind the scenes, rolling for monsters fighting each other while they try to occupy new territories, etc., but I end up slacking off and just being thrilled that I can run a decent session that everyone has fun at with no prep other than my notepad.

        As for dungeon generation software, my friend’s long-running campaign that finally ended started off as a way to playtest a room generator he’d written. And it produced a lot of weird “I close the door slowly” nightmare stuff. And a local culture with a strange obsession with vaguely autumnal themes–bronze leaves everywhere, I tell ya!

        One problem I faced when using tables in the book to try to roll up treasures is that, more often than not, a hard monster that should’ve had treasure would have nothing or next to nothing, while one out of 20 would have way more than it should. So I just ended up doling out what treasure I think the monsters should have/should be guarding.

        I’m still interested in the idea of doing node-based dungeons that concentrate more on the relational layout of the rooms than the exact dimension. That would also be easier to randomly generate, I’d think, than something with concrete architecture.

      • I stumbled across a game design researcher, Joris Dormans, who’s done some really cool stuff with graphs and procedural dungeon generation.
        http://www.jorisdormans.nl/home.php

        He developed an action roguelike (“Unexplored,” i think) that uses cyclic graphs to generate navigable puzzle dungeons. I haven’t played it but I’ve watched some videos and i read a few of his academic papers.

        I’m fuzzy on the math (and working to remedy that) but he demonstrated some pretty cool dungeons with procedural puzzles and locked doors and chests and traps that could be disarmed or circumvented.

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