Death Crypt of the Ultra Lich – Old Buried Abbey (Level 2)

This second level is the lower, original abbey that was buried under a layer of dirt and ash. The hole in the chapel of the newer, upper church leads to room 10. The stairs north of 1 lead to the Library. Well in 22 is the back door to the Artificer’s workshop. Capstone in 26 leads to the Crypts (Level 3). Stairs in 27 are the main entrance to the Artificer’s workshop.

Space between 16, 19, 22, and all between 17 and 20 used to be an herb garden for soap-making; it can theoretically be cleared enough to create a “short cut”, but it would hardly be worth the effort. Exterior doors open to solid walls of dirt, stone, and ash. These can be excavated, but will take much longer than the upper tunnels.

Dungeon Level 2 - Main

  1. High arched wall w/stairs going down; spider webs
  2. 1d4 crab spiders
  3. 1d4 crab spiders; rack w/tattered clothes
  4. 1 Mage Spider (2HD)–Light, Read Magic; Scroll of Magic Missile x3; 5pp
  5. Several tables w/books. Most crumble at the touch. 1 is open to an illuminated page showing battle of wizards. Falls apart when touched.
  6. Webbed antechamber
  7. Narthex. 2 empty fonts. Door cannot open. Lever to secret door by west font
  8. 1d4 faded wraiths (2HD, drain only on a 6); 8 vials of holy water. 3k gp, 8 holy symbols
  9. Caved in room. Can be tunneled/excavated
  10. Four Saint Statues making holy gestures (1k gp each)
  11. 1d4 crab spiders; 22 cp, +1 mace
  12. Rows of wooden benches; Altar w/book (scroll of Bless, 5x charges)
  13. Missing door, 2 skeletons*
  14. (Monks’ cells) 2 skeletons*, 85 sp in d
  15. Long tables w/benches
  16. Kitchen. Oven. 4 bottles of wine (bad); rotted, useless ingredients; 24 blackened silver plates (1gp each)
  17. Prayer room w/empty pool
  18. Cabinet reliquary, trapped door (poison needle on cabinet door); Gold Chalice (500 gp), +1 mace, +1 shield
  19. 1 wight*; 700 gp, tapestries/fur blankets, +1 robe
  20. Soap making chemicals, dried plants, 20 bars of fragrant soap (10 gp each)
  21. A piece of tooled metal
  22. A well in the middle of this room goes 50-ft deep; there are buckets (4), rotting rope and 60 ft of chain; 1d8 fire beetles in the well
  23. 3d4 skeletons*; south door has holy symbols and writing. Read magic, languages or local cleric “Beware the life curse”; below is carved “Blessed be the Resurrection”
  24. A bronze, bi-pedal construct [1.5′] wanders these halls clockwise. 4 mauls
  25. Shelves. 2x sets of thieves tools
  26. 9 ghouls – 3 in each alcove. Attack when party enters the room. Jars w/3k cp, 5k sp, 900 gp, jeweled bracelet (1.2k gp), and rosary. Stone circle [capstone] in center of room. Sigil reads “Beware the life curse”
  27. Two metal faces in corners of the room. Stepping into the room triggers them. 1d6 arrow. 1 per round. Attacks as 1HD monser, 30 arrows. Disassembled, worth 1k gp each
  28. Barrels of nails (3), scrap metal (all rusted together)
  29. Barrels of scrap copper 4x (200 gp each)

*Become active undead if capstone seal in room 26 is broken.

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Death Crypt of the Ultralich: The Library

I didn’t write much up from the previous session, as it was mostly finalizing the exploration of the (more or less empty) 1st floor and a brief foray toward the northern sub-dungeon. That night, they almost got TPKed by a Spider Mage with a sleep scroll, but it rolled low, so the Fighter hireling was still standing while it made a run for it. They fought a handful of spiders in the gallery that led towards the library. It was a near run, but no one died–with a few characters hurt, they decided to return to town. This was good for them, since if they camped in the side room, the other Mage Spiders would’ve had them trapped and killed them all.

Last Friday’s session was an absolutely spectacular cluster-fuck worthy of note in the annals of B/X D&D.

The group essentially tried to clear out the library of Mage Spiders in one go. The library has an openish floor-plan, with two parallel halls of reading rooms running on either side of the upper and lower stacks, which meant a cascading large-scale encounter in the upper stacks. They ended up killing 20+ giant spiders and spiderlings*, a black widow, a tarantella, 3 Mage Spiders, and a Spider Archmage.

Keep in mind, too, that this party is made up entirely of Thieves, except for the hirelings, who were a fighter and a halfling.

At one point, after 2/3s of the spiderlings and both the Tarantella and the Black Widow had been killed, the Mage Spiders tried to surrender. “Stop! We’ve been minding our own business in this library for centuries! We only attacked you because you invaded our home!”

One of the PCs used this opportunity to backstab and murder the Mage Spider trying to surrender. This is about the time that the Spider Archmage has shown up to figure out what the hell is going on.

The party had been pretty torn up after the battle when the Spider Archmage showed up. Because they killed the last Mage Spider, talking’s off the table, so the Spider Archmage casts Magic Missile and hits the halfling-hireling for nearly 20 damage–the party’s best tank gets misted; gibs of halfling coat the remaining 3 PCs and one hireling. Unfortunately for the Spider Archmage, that was his ace damage spell. The players’ action economy gets the better of him, and he’s not able to get another spell off.

The surviving PCs clear out the library and find one of the alternate exits from the dungeon–a branch from which leads to the lair of an Owlbear.

The existence of the Owlbear had foreshadowed; the mage spiders would’ve hired them to drive it off if they’d made peace with them, and the PCs would’ve been paid double to deal with it, since Crazy Jim had promised 1000 gold for Owlbear meat.

The thieves listened down the tunnel; they hear a gentle hooting/cooing snore. They try to sneak up on the sleeping Owlbear, but they rolled lousy on their move silently checks. The first thief, who was going to try to throw burning oil on the sleeping Owlbear, found himself face-to-face with critter. They tie initiative–the Owlbear is set on fire just as it bats the thief across its lair, killing him with one hit.

When we roll for regular initiative, the Owlbear wins; another thief is crushed in a bear hug by a burning Owlbear. The last PC thief manages to get behind it and kill it while it’s tearing into his buddy.

After all of that, the party is down to one thief and one NPC fighter hireling who rolled lousy the entire fight. The last thief murders the NPC to claim all the treasure and 7200 XP from session for himself.

*My only note for spiderlings was that they were the same as Crab Spiders, except they used webs, were smaller, and had a paralysis bite rather than an instant death bite.

Prelude to the Death Crypt of the Ultralich

I don’t have a better name for my current game yet, and it ultimately may not take the direction implied in the name (though the mass combat game I ran two weeks ago did serve as a “distant prologue”).

I’m experimenting with a dynamic exploration-focused dungeon, one which begins… almost empty!

The design concept ties into adventure hook that got the party there:

There’s a small town celebrating its founding day, which is normally a smaller affair, but this is the anniversary of the end of the Wizard War. There’s a stone marker outside of town on a hill, and it’s an “historical site” which Wizard War nerds might want to check out on the 500th anniversary. Between the end of the Wizard War and the founding of the town, there was a “rain of dirt” (possibly a volcano, possibly magic upheaval) that buried whatever was there. Folks didn’t want the spot to be totally forgotten, so they put up a plaque. The party found the ruin because a child playing on the hill fell down a sinkhole.

The complex is actually a small buried temple built on top of a previously buried monastery that was built over a series of crypts to seal up some of the residual evils of a Lieutenant of the Ultralich who was defeated on that spot. Below that are caverns and who knows what; I haven’t even fully keyed the crypt area.

The top level is mostly empty, stripped bare, and even the purpose is somewhat of a mystery until the players find the chapel. There are a few collapsed tunnels at the edges of the map, and a room with bats indicating that the room is near the surface of the hillside. Eventually, these tunnels may become excavated as more adventurers and possibly clergymen and historians begin to explore the upper ruins. These empty rooms will serve as future sites of minor archaeological base-camps or refuges for vagrants and bandits. But for now, the party has the ruins to themselves.

I remembered how much I hated the Bruce Heard game I was in because, despite all of the cool fair and carnival stuff around, I didn’t get a chance to interact with it, so if my players decide to do some carnival games, I’ll let them. We’re going to Millennium Fair it. I’m also allowing them to create a bit of the town themselves, picking what they need to have in the town, letting them name places and people. We’ve already ended up with an awesome tavern keeper named Crazy Jim, whose specialty is Owlbear stew. Over the course of the evening, it was established that Crazy Jim is a retired adventurer of ridiculous level.

My DM (a player in this game) is on a Delicious in Dungeon kick, and I’m happy to oblige. Turns out, the secret to making top-notch Owlbear Stew: you gotta make em good and angry. Most animals if they’re all riled up, the meat can get tough and gamey. But Owlbears are different—when an owlbear gets mad, their muscles get all loosened up, like they’ve done a bunch of stretches and then gotten a massage; makes em move all fluid-like. So, if you want the best Owlbear meat, you’ve gotta get em real good and pissed off before you kill them—the meat’ll just fall off the bones.

So, for now, my dungeon chef is contenting himself with frying up centipedes and mice with the wild green onions he’s picked.

Interestingly, my three players have all opted to run Thieves. They reason that this way they’ll always be able to be sneaky and at least one of them will always get a backstab. They have a fighter and Halfling for hirelings; we’ll see how all of this will work out. The halfling’s probably better at hiding from things than they are at this point, but there’s been very little to hide from so far.

The downside of everyone playing thieves, I can’t use this as an opportunity to really go for broke on sticking to the book on Moldvay magic rules. I went out of my way to stock the dungeon with scrolls to reward someone who picked “Read Magic” as their one first level spell. There’s an NPC elf lady whose spell is read magic, but the party didn’t pick her as a hireling, so she very well may end up as part of a rival adventuring party.

The second level of the dungeon, once they reach it, has two mini-side dungeons off of it. One is a workshop with a few high-loot-value mechanical monstrosities that are terrifyingly out of depth. The other is the original monastery’s library, which has been taken over by Aranea.

A lot of the treasure will be hidden in the crypt below the 2nd level, but opening the vault to the crypt will trigger some stuff that will turn much of level 2 “active”. This could upset anyone trying to set up shop on the first floor, definitely a corner of the 2nd floor, and maybe even the rest of the town.

B4: The Lost City – Pt 9 (Conclusion)

I managed to finish off B4 last friday, which is good, because I was beginning to feel at the end of my DM rope. I don’t really know if my players enjoyed it or not, but the various issues I was having with the module’s design had turned running it into a chore. Even if they were having fun, there were plenty of times I wasn’t. I’d say that any and all of the stuff I ran as part of my Shadow Over Alfheim game (particularly Maze of Nuromen) was easier and more enjoyable to DM overall than the Lost City.

They party headed to the gambling den to clear out the rest of the take. The “weird” cynidicean encounters are a bit frustrating, because so many of them are just weird for weirdness sake, have little bearing on things, and often just create distractions. Ones like the room of people staring off into space and screaming randomly but not reacting to the players and the room where people are having a party and dancing with themselves may provide a pittance of XP bonus for murderhobos, but very little actual roleplaying opportunities; in fact, I generally gave the Cynidiceans a bit more cognizance of their surroundings and the actions of the players to make them more interactive than how they were written. At this point, though, I was glad they didn’t insist on finding out the mysteries of these two rooms and, after stabbing a guy in the leg to see what would happen (nothing) and talking to a fiddler in the party room who wanted to know why they stole the masks off the guys who were high on drugs in the foyer, they went to the gambling den and took the part of the loot that Darius had left behind.

And they took the 30′ x 30′ wall to wall flying carpet I’d placed there as a means to leave Cynidicea.

The factions loaded them up with some previsions and off they flew. I had kinda half-ass tried to throw a cool set-piece encounter at them as a “final boss fight”, but I don’t really know how well it went off. Part of the idea was to give them a chance to be set-up for a future game if we ever wanted to run Isle of Dread, but it didn’t quite work out. The flying carpet took them about a mile off the coast of the Isle on the way to wherever the hell it was they were going when they were attacked by three Pteranodons. The idea was that the Pteranodons would knock them off the carpet and they’d have to swim to shore. The problem was that they immediately tried to avoid them by flying higher, so by the time they encountered them, they were 500 feet above the water to where a fall would mean certain death.

I divided the Carpet up into 5 sections – 4 corners and the center. As the Pteranodons made their approach, I let them get a couple missile attacks in before they hit. From then out, the Pteranodons would randomly hit one area of the carpet, forcing dex saves and saves vs. paralysis to see if they got knocked back or off the carpet completely. Each Pteranodon would remain for 2 initiative segments (so melee characters could get swings in) before flying off to make another pass. In a few cases, folks got knocked off, but things like rolling ridiculously well to grab thrown ropes or use floating disc saved lives. The cleric proved his salt blinding the largest of the three and then, when it was able to find them by sound, by casting silence on the carpet.

It was a fairly kinetic, rough and tumble fight, but party killed two and drove off the blinded one, surviving the fight. I was a bit aggravated that one player seemed genuinely mad that I wasn’t rolling for the werefoxes, who’d gone with them; thank god no one pointed out to him that technically all of the characters whose players hadn’t made it were with them too and I wasn’t rolling for them either. By the time it was all over, I was glad to be done with it and proud that I hadn’t rage quit my own game (last week was a really lousy week, and while I wasn’t going to take it out on my players, I really didn’t have the patience for being nitpicked). They got back to whatever the hell city they were from/had been going to before they got separated, got the hero’s welcome, etc. etc., the end.

My game wrapped pretty early in the evening, so we spent another three and a half hours playing Index Card D&D, and I think most of us had more fun with that. I know I did.

Starting this friday, my friend will be resuming his regular DMing duties trying out a homebrew system built off Warhammer Fantasy RPG (don’t ask me which edition, I’m liable to say a random number and shrug) to implement in his urban adventure setting.

B4: The Lost City – Part 7

If we weren’t using a Death and Dismemberment variation*, we probably would’ve lost most of the high-ish level characters and most of the rest of the original party members.

On the way down to level 5, the party encountered some hobgoblins who were keeping an eye on the trap door down to try to keep folks out who might be coming to mess with Darius, a high priest of Zargon, while he was collecting funds from the gambling den.  This encounter ended up a bit messy and the party couldn’t talk their way out of the bad reaction roll.  Some folks got hurt pretty bad, but the party managed to take out most of the goblins, with one escaping and another being bound and gagged and forced to lead them to the gambling den.

Here is where the poor dungeon design came in to haunt me again – how did the hobgoblins get past the two living statues?  Again, unless we go with the whole ‘only NPCs can use the secret pyramid tunnels’, the hobgoblins, and anybody, really, would have to go past two living statues/iron golems and two giant rock pythons every time they come up from the city! Well, the goblin led the party toward the gambling den and got a living statue’s axe right through his head – I hand-waved this by pointing out that he may not have been able to make whatever sign or speak whatever passphrase was necessary or may not have even known about needing it, as he very likely wasn’t the leader of his patrol.  I hate having to explain stuff like this players, and feel like maybe I shouldn’t, but I’m frustrated enough by the anti-logic of the dungeon’s layout that I try to address stuff when it breaks suspension of disbelief (which this module has frequently).

Anyway, the players searched Demetrius’ room looking for a trap door because there HAS to be a way into the rest of tier 5 that doesn’t involve walking past living statues an rock pythons, there just has to be! They didn’t find a more sensible way out, but they did find the secret treasure room with a closet-boss.  What is a closet-boss?  It’s when you open the door to a rather inconspicuous and isolated room that just happens to have a boss in it for no good reason.  In a 20 x 20 room, there’s nothing but a chest with 6500 XP worth of loot and magic items and a 10HD monster pretending to be a tapestry.

The first thing that the polymar tried to turn into was some vaguely bear-like creature (earning it the name ‘rug-bear’), taking some pretty brutal swats at the cleric.  It proceeded to eat one of the level 1 characters while the rest of the party beat a hasty retreat.  They ran into the Vultures and hired them to make a coffin for the dead character, just go down and pick him up; naturally, they found the polymar down there and a couple of them got gobbled up.  The players joined the fight after the second round, at which point, the Vultures made a run for it, straight into the room with the two living statues.  While most of the party was trying to hold off the polymar (which was more or less one-shotting players), someone tried to hold the door as the Vultures came running back screaming, two living statues in slow pursuit.

So, after a couple hours, the party hadn’t made any geographic headway and lost a few level one characters and had a few higher level characters sustain some pretty crippling permanent injuries, so we have a lame, 1-eyed thief (movement halved, no dex bonus, -4 on all ranged attacks) and a cleric with a shattered arm (-2 on all rolls requiring use of the right hand), but at least they ended up with nearly 9K XP to split between them.

The Polymar was probably the toughest thing they’ve fought, and may well be one of the toughest monsters in the top half of the dungeon.  With 10 Hit Dice and 3 attacks, it’s nearly guaranteed to hit at least once per round, probably twice, and very likely three times per target, meaning it takes between 1-2 rounds to kill a level 3 character before moving on to the next one.  The one saving grace is that it has AC of 9, so luckily the Vultures got enough hits on it with their hammers, else it would’ve been a TPK for sure.  The party really needed YOLO to tank for them, but that player is going to be out for the next couple of sessions.

I’m hoping that we’ll be able to wrap on The Lost City within the next session or two – Killing Darius is a pretty good stopping goal, and I’m ready to be done with this module.

*:How I do it is that I allow characters to suffer 1 grievous, permanent and crippling injury per level beyond the 1st instead of death.

B4: The Lost City – Part 6

Friday was another bloody session in the Pyramid (I’m sensing a pattern here). I feel bad that the same player keeps losing characters, especially since at least two of the last 3 times haven’t really been entirely his fault; wrong place, wrong time, brutal rolls.

The players were determined to avenge the deaths of the 3/4s of the party who’d been killed by the Banshee, so they stocked up on scrolls, including Silence and Magic Missile.  This fight would’ve likely been impossible if I didn’t allow for clerics to use scrolls, because Silence is not an arcane spell(!), but I always liked the idea of clerics carrying around liturgical papers that they could cast from.

The party hit a wandering monster encounter right as they were reaching the false tomb on the way to the king’s chamber.  They found a dozen hobgoblins wallowing in the counterfeit treasure.  The party got a high enough reaction roll that hobgoblins, while wary, weren’t planning on attacking so long as the party let them haul off the treasure.  If the party wanted to visit ‘the shouty man’, they could be their guest.

The party cast silence on one of their number who then ran in and began the attack on the banshee.  Unable to use its scream attack, the banshee was completely impotent to stop the party from having their way with the tomb, and the fight was a push-over.  Just to piss it off, they forced it to watch helplessly as the party members who weren’t carrying magical weapons pried open the coffin it was guarding.

The party waited out the hobgoblins, who had cleaned out the fake treasure, and returned for their rewards from the factions.  Usamigaras promised big rewards and eventually delivered on a large ream of 1st level spells in exchange for the two crowns which they will use to establish a puppet royal family.  Gorm declared YOLO Swaggins to be their champion to bear the raiment of the king (+1 Plate and +2 Sword) against the forces of Zargon and granted him access to their treasury; all things considered, I’m surprised he didn’t take the opportunity to clear them out.

On the way back down, the party ran into a bunch of crazy Cynidiceans wearing devil masks (the low-level cleric encounter) and made pretty short work of them.  Continuing on, the party went down the trap door, to the cleric Demetrius’ room, and on to the kitchenette where the two rock pythons were chowing down on a lady in a rabbit mask.  The rock pythons were a tough fight, since they get to do a bite and an automatic constriction attack.  The party’s main cleric would’ve died if they hadn’t killed the first snake before its second initiative.  The second snake managed to kill one of the party’s thieves – someone with a high AC should never be the first to melee a high hit die monster.  Since I agreed to use Death and Dismemberment for characters above 1st level who could be immediately cure-lighted and carried out (hence why I didn’t use it for the nearly half-dozen characters abandoned to the banshee), the thief only suffered a shattered leg – halved max movement and no dex bonus forever.

So, the last few sessions have gone from very low loot/low XP to incredibly high loot/high XP.  The last two or three sessions have all had 4 digit XP on a per-player basis, so just about everyone is level 3.  I think the Halfling would be level 4 if he hadn’t been level drained by the wight.  I think the group has decided that hunting down and killing Darius, the Priest of Zargon with ties to the gambling den on level 5 will be the end-point for the game, though a few people have thought “why don’t we go down the city and temple of Zargon to just kill them there?” Because this content is behind a DLC paywall.

I’m going to give Darius a wall-to-wall flying carpet or something, because B4 doesn’t have a rational end-game for anyone except for Cynidiceans who fill in for dead party members.  There’s a lot of fun stuff in B4, but too many things that don’t work from a sensible dungeon-design standpoint.  You either have to expect your players to accept at face value what Moldvay says about secret passages through the pyramid that only the inhabitants know about and the players can never have access to (a hard pill to swallow) or you have some very highly trafficked areas in ridiculous locations.  Lots of the random encounters are difficult to rationalize or justify quickly in answering the questions of “why are they here” and “how did they get here.” All people passing through from the city to the upper pyramid must have passed through the trapdoor in room 27 where the shrews are and the secret door past Demetrius’ quarters where there are two freaking rock pythons.  Why do the Cynidiceans wander up to the pyramid anyway?  There are just too many questions about B4 that can only be answered with “just because”.

I’d like to note something about how melee combat works – many games I’ve played with different DMs handle melee situations where a monster will roll a die and randomly attack the nearest character.  The rules, however, imply that once two individuals are in melee, they are locked in melee and will continue to be so until one is dead or spends one defensive round breaking off melee, at which point the other combatant either pursues and presses the attack (if initiative allows) or is engaged by or chooses to engage with another target.  Now, why is this important?  Because low AC characters can lock down big monsters while high AC characters can get some shots in.  If you go by having the monster randomly choose which nearby player it lashes out at, it unfairly puts thieves and magic users at risk (against ACs of 5-9, 5HD+ monsters can very easily score one hit kills) and discourages their active participation in battle, contributing to the whole ‘useless thief’/’useless mage’ trope.  However if you play by how the melee rules are written, a character with decent HP and an AC of 2 or lower (Plate + shield + Dex) can force the monster to continue to attack him, forcing misses and soaking damage while the thieves and magic users are safe to make their own attacks without being afraid of being one-shotted.  There are, of course, exceptions to this; big monsters or creatures with flight should have reasonable options in who they choose to attack, but there shouldn’t ever be a situation where a lizard man just stops fighting the fighting man and turns around 180 degrees to attack the thief who just tried to get a backstab.

B4: The Lost City – Part 5

The journey into the tomb at the heart of tier 4 was a bloody mess.  We’d have to go back to the DCC funnel for a session where we lost more characters.  Impressively enough, my players wanted to soldier on and keep trying!

With some dithering about early on, trying the “haunted” path one more time (only YOLO Swaggins made his saving throw against fear), the party eventually hunkered down to take the nautilus path into the center of the tombs.  The party managed to find and not spring any of the traps in the hall, and, with an abundance of caution, they reached the false tomb. Though their quest givers had specifically warned of the false tomb following the council of war, the party inspected it with an abundance of caution, piling up rocks and debris on top of one coffin before examining the other.

Now first, let me say that I don’t think that pyramid should be taken in a linear fashion, as there’s almost no way to deal with one of the tomb haunts by the level at which the players would normally arrive at it – they should almost certainly continue exploring down to the 5th floor for a bit, finding some of the necessary magical weapons, before returning to the king and queen’s tombs.  But the players were relatively insistent.

Unfortunately for the party, they chose the southern tomb (the king’s) first and got their shit utterly wrecked by the Banshee.  While not quite as fierce as its AD&D counterpart, its immunity to all but magical weapons and unavoidable AOE attack made it much more formidable than the party could deal with.  They went at it much longer than I thought they would and much longer than they should have.  Three rounds and four bodies later, the party realized they were way out of their depth and finally ran – even though they blamed not rolling a hit earlier so they would’ve known right off that their silver weapons were useless, if it were me, the second I knew I was up against something that did AOE damage for which there was no roll to hit nor to save against, I would’ve been out.

The only characters who escaped were YOLO and a Cleric who’d also reached level 2 last session.  They lost a cleric, a thief, a prodigal apprentice and an elf.  The elf was a real tragedy, because she very well could’ve levelled up this session if she’d lived.

The survivors ran like hell back to the friendly areas on the 2nd and 3rd tiers.  We finally reached the point where most of the original pool of characters are dead, and new characters are now rolled up from the Cynidiceans.

“After discussing the matter, the factions have agreed that an expeditionary force be sent with you to ensure that the relics are retrieved.”

“Awesome, how many guys are they sending with us?”

“The new characters you rolled up; you are the expeditionary force.”

The first order of business was retrieving as much of their party’s loot from the tomb as possible. Out of generosity, I’ve been giving a lot of the nastier tomb-guardians the Scooby-Doo treatment – if, after it menaces, you run the hell away and leave it alone, it won’t hunt you down and murder you.  If you peeked around the door, the Banshee would give you frowny eyes.  Luckily, YOLO Swaggins had good dex and a lot of HP, so he was able to survive long enough to lasso and drag out a couple of the bodies, though the thief who’d tried to backstab the Banshee was out of reach.

Y’know, more’s the pity that the party didn’t roll up any MU characters or that their elf died, since their best chance against the Banshee would’ve been to buy up a ton of scrolls of magic missile from the Magi of Usamigaras and spammed those.

The new party went for the Queen’s chamber and, just as scripted, the Queen pops out of her coffin and attacks.  YOLO took point on opening the coffin as he had the most HP.  He also had the most to lose when the Queen hit him.  There’s nothing quite like the response from your players when they’re up against something that causes level drain and you play it straight.  I do need to make note that I owe him about 400 XP, because instead of knocking him down to the half-way point between level 1 and 2, I took off the full 2000XP for level 2.  The party was fortunate that the Queen rolled for crap and that YOLO had decent AC, she only got one hit in before being hacked to pieces.  Still, level drain is always sobering.  The crown and the reward that the Sisterhood gave the party was enough XP to knock everyone new up to level 2 straight away, YOLO got his hit die back (and lucky for him, rolled a 6 again, so he’s still the party’s tank!) and the cleric now gets 2 cure light wounds!)

So, a few things:

-Doing individual initiative has actually sped things up, and there has been no complaining or arguing about who is doing what when.

-The Lost City does not make a lot of sense from a dungeon design standpoint; this isn’t going to be a problem except for when you have players who care about sensible dungeon design and will call you on it when it becomes relevant.  A lot of random encounters aren’t going to make sense, so you may need to wing it if the results you roll just don’t work for the room you’re players are in.

-It’s probably just because it’s the Tomb level, but things have gone from really Role-Play-ey to Hack-and-Slashy – this hasn’t been a bad thing, as it’s meant that the last couple of sessions have required almost no prep.  We’re very likely not going to go beyond some of the 5th Tier stuff, so I think I’m good on prep work.  I’ve got a tear-off I can hand whichever player gets possessed by Demetrius, I’ve already mentioned the rumor of a high priest of Zargon visiting the pyramid, and all I have to do now is let my players find and kill him.

-Even when players should know better (i.e. the first character dies before anyone can get a hit), they will attempt to persevere when they should run.  That Banshee was ye-close to a TPK.