A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Default [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom



    So, I ran this module back in April, and I took quite a lot of notes at the time with a view to writing up the game session as a journal entry. As you can tell by the fact that it is now February, this project got a bit sidetracked. It was pretty clear to me as I got into writing it that the word count was going to be more than was reasonable to expect someone to read on a forum, whether they were interested or not. The idea of dividing it up into a number of posts only recently occurred to me, and I figured posting it up in installments would be easier to digest. Anyway, I ran the adventure using a combination of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and Castles & Crusades. Since it this was a one off session, I defaulted to Greyhawk, and decided to set the adventure in southern Veluna, placing the cave entrance in the westernmost ranges of the Kron hills. To save time, we used pregenerated characters from previous games and set them at a level appropriate to the adventure at hand.

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    Danath (Level Two Human Fighter)
    M 12(9); AC 5(4); HP 21; DR 1; #A 1˝; FA 2(6); D 5-12, 5-10 or 5-8.
    Attributes: Strength 18, Dexterity 12, Constitution 14, Intelligence 12, Wisdom 12, Charisma 10,
    Possessions: Mail Armour, Large Shield, Long Sword, Light Mace, Dagger, Potion of Healing,

    Shantela (Level Two Human Fighter)
    M 12(9); AC 5(3); HP 20; DR 1; #A 1˝; FA 2(6); D 5-16, 5-10 or 5-8.
    Attributes: Strength 17, Dexterity 17, Constitution 14, Intelligence 13, Wisdom 13, Charisma 13,
    Possessions: Mail Armour, Great Scimitar, Hand Axe, Dagger,

    Nalin (Level Two Halfling Rogue)
    M 9; AC 7(5); HP 8; DR 0; #A 1; FA 1(1|3); D 1-6 or 1-4.
    Attributes: Strength 12, Dexterity 17, Constitution 10, Intelligence 15, Wisdom 14, Charisma 10,
    Possessions: Studded Leather Armour, Short Sword, Dagger, Short Bow, Twenty Four Arrows,

    Alarian (Level Two Half Elf Cleric)
    M 12(9); AC 5(4); HP 12; DR 1; #A 1; FA 1(2); D 2-9 or 2-5.
    Attributes: Strength 13, Dexterity 10, Constitution 13, Intelligence 10, Wisdom 16, Charisma 9,
    Possessions: Mail Armour, Large Shield, Heavy Mace, Dagger,
    Spells: Cure Minor Wounds, Cure Light Wounds, Bless,

    Garalias (Level Two Elf Wizard)
    M 12; AC 6(4); HP 5; DR 1; #A 1; FA 1(2|4); D 2-7 or 1-4.
    Attributes: Strength 12, Dexterity 16, Constitution 10, Intelligence 17, Wisdom 16, Charisma 14,
    Possessions: Robes, Long Sword, Dagger, Long Bow, Twenty Four Arrows,
    Spells: Magic Missile, Armour, Sleep,


    Danath was played by Phil, Shantela by his girlfriend Miranda, Nalin by Ian, Alarian by Ed, and Garalias by Dan. Whilst it was Miranda’s first game, the other players all had plenty of experience, and it didn’t take her long to get into the swing of things. Investigating rumours of missing people and animals, these five companions followed the sometimes strange tracks and signs of their elusive quarry. They traversed newly worn trails and treacherous foothills, coming at last to a wide rend in the rock face, down into which a swift stream flowed.

    Few words were needed, torches were lit, and Nalin led the way down into the dark. For long minutes the party trudged onwards, following the watercourse through a narrow and winding tunnel made treacherous by its passage, until soft sounds ahead portended the waterfall that their flickering torchlight soon revealed. Carefully, Nalin approached the edge, clambering over slippery rocks, and peering down to where the water rushed, a thirty foot drop at the edge of his illumination. Relating this to his companions, it took only a short while for them to discern the method of descent; a web like lattice of thick plant growth covered the south wall, almost ladder like in form. The companions decided be cautious, and with the added security of ropes they descended the fungus ladder one at a time.

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    Slippery Rocks (1 in 3) – Success
    Fungus Ladder (1 in 1) – Success
    Wandering Monster (1 in 10) – Failed


    From the base of the waterfall, it could be seen that the tunnel continued for another twenty feet or so before opening up into a larger area. Garalias noted a score and more feet above them a strange wooden channel conveying water along the walls and into the darkness. Wary of the purpose of such a device, they proceeded only slowly and with weapons drawn into what turned out to be a large natural cavern; it was punctuated with stalactites and stalagmites, between which flowed the continuing watercourse and out through another tunnel to the south. A short search of the chamber revealed nothing of note, and so the companions made their way towards the south exit.

    Thinking to make use of their natural stealth, Nalin and Garalias advanced ahead of their companions, taking no notice of the slime covered plants that hung down from the cavern roof and flanked the passage ahead. With astonishing speed, tendrils shot forth, and though Nalin dodged to one side, his Elven companion was not so fortunate. Galarias was ensnared before he realised there was a danger. As Nalin darted past the plants and into the passage, his companions leapt into action. Shantela struck one of the foul aberrations just as it smashed Galarias into the cavern wall, and out of the fight, whilst Danath and Alarian rushed the other. In a flurry of blows, the monstrous plants were quickly dispatched, a vile blue green ichor seeping from their sundered limbs. Afterwards, Danath found he had to cut away the tendrils that had latched upon his shield, for they would by no means come away of their own accord, though he pulled mightily upon them. Alarian tended the wounds of Galarias and found them thankfully none too severe; a minor spell returned him fully to the waking world, none the worse for wear, though perhaps a little wiser.

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    Move Silently (3 in 10) – Failed.
    Party Surprise (1 in 3) – Failed.
    Monster Surprise (2 in 3) – Succeeded.
    Surprise Round – Snagwort misses Nalin; Snagwort hits Garalias.
    Round 1 – Snagwort misses Nalin; Snagwort hits Garalias (1d6 = 5); Garalias unconscious; Shantela charges and hits Snagwort (1d12+4 = 7); Alarian charges and hits Snagwort (1d8+1 = 4; Danath charges and hits Snagwort (1d8+4 = 7).
    Round 2 – Shantela hits Snagwort (1d12+4 = 9); Snagwort slain; Alarian misses Snagwort; Snagwort hits Danath; Danath hits Snagwort (1d8+4 = 7); Snagwort slain.
    Afterwards – Alarian casts cure light wounds on Galarias (1d8 = 5).

    Last edited by Matthew; 2010-02-11 at 07:22 PM.
    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    "Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom" -- The name alone screams all kinds of awesome

    I look forward to reading this...

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    + Follow Thread

    *popcorns*

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    After a brief rest, the five companions began to investigate the south passage. Undeterred, Nalin led the way, but they did not have to travel far before they came upon a second waterfall, this one with a much narrower clearance. Near at hand, there was also a small wooden door like indentation in the lower wall of the tunnel, and directly opposite it a small hole. Following a short discussion, it was agreed that they should lower Nalin over the fall by rope, to see if he might find some mechanism by which to allow them all to pass more easily.

    The descent was quite an awful experience for the halfling, who was thoroughly soaked, and not a bit battered, upon reaching solid ground. It took him several minutes to successfully light a torch, and he was quite disappointed with what it revealed. He was standing at a three way intersection with no further evidence of a mechanism beyond another small hole in the wall facing a larger one, and no way to inform his companions beyond being pulled back up, an experience he was so loathe to repeat that he unloosed the rope from his waist at the thought. Inevitably, this caused some confusion to his companions when Danath pulled the rope back up, devoid of Nalin, a short time later.

    Feeling a certain amount of frustration and apprehension, Danath and Shantela began to try to prise open, then break down the wooden door like indentation in the tunnel wall, whilst their companions retraced their steps to see if they might have missed something in their haste. It was Galarias who found the small casket hidden at the bottom of the pool beneath the first waterfall, much to his satisfaction. Inside was a wooden key, which he lost no time in trying to fit into the small hole opposite the indentation. Upon its insertion, the very passage floor seemed to subtly shift, and the now badly damaged wooden plug sprang open of its own accord. This caused the stream to shift direction and the waterfall to cease, revealing a wooden ladder leading down.

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    Wandering Monsters (1 in 10) – Failed.


    During this time, Nalin had begun to explore the west passage, but finding that it went on for some way, returned to the intersection just in time to find the flow of water diverted and his four fellows descending by means of the hidden ladder. Once reunited, they set off along the west tunnel and followed it round until Nalin spotted an opening in the south wall. Indicating for the others to stay back, he stealthily entered a small side chamber filled with many great pillars of fungus; his low burning torch casting meagre illumination, he was very fortunate to notice the pulsating mound of fleshy vegetation hidden at the back of the pillared cave. Since it showed no sign of having noticed him, he crept back to where his companions waited.

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    Move Silently (3 in 10) – Succeeded.
    Party Surprise (5 in 6) – Succeeded.

    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    Quite interesting so far.

    Did the module have mechanics for waterfall battering, did you come up with your own houserule, or did you just decide to RP that it was an unpleasant experience?

    Also, out of curiosity, do you think fungus burns well? It's plant matter, so it should be combustible, but it's also quite wet. If wet wood (or leaves) is a good model, it could create a self-sustaining fire as long as you start with a big enough fire. Of course, than they have problems with uncontrolled fire, smoke inhalation, and damage to potential treasure, but it sure would be tempting to just take a torch (or fire spell) to the walls.
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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus View Post
    Did the module have mechanics for waterfall battering, did you come up with your own houserule, or did you just decide to RP that it was an unpleasant experience?
    Good question. The module provides some brief guidelines for overcoming the waterfall without diverting it. Characters using a rope have to succeed on three strength checks on 3d6; characters attempting to climb without a rope use 5d6. Failure results in being swept away for 1d6, 2d6, or 3d6 damage (normal falling rules), depending on how many checks they succeed. Since they decided to lower Nalin down, I dispensed with that and just described a very unpleasant descent (the module says that anybody climbing down is drenched by almost freezing cold water). So, I suppose the answer is all three in a way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus View Post
    Also, out of curiosity, do you think fungus burns well? It's plant matter, so it should be combustible, but it's also quite wet. If wet wood (or leaves) is a good model, it could create a self-sustaining fire as long as you start with a big enough fire. Of course, than they have problems with uncontrolled fire, smoke inhalation, and damage to potential treasure, but it sure would be tempting to just take a torch (or fire spell) to the walls.
    The pod caverns are pretty heavily irrigated and damp, and the pods themselves save at +1 versus fire. So, I wouldn't say the fungus is likely to burn especially well. The Dungeoneer's Survival Guide has extensive rules on the problems of underground fires, but I don't use them if I can help it.
    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    After a short debate, it was decided that a swift attack was worth the risk, and they moved quietly into the chamber, spreading out so as to encircle and outflank the creature. Then, in unison, Shantela, Danath, and Alarian rushed upon it, striking swift blows with sword and mace, but the hoary flesh of the monster turned aside many an attack. Nor was it slow in its own defence, fighting back fiercely with two thick limbs, it grabbed Danath in a crushing embrace, pulling him into its very being. Seeing her chance in this moment of distraction, Shantela leapt behind the vile thing and struck a mighty blow, driving her blade deep into its fibrous flesh; from the monster came forth an inhuman scream and in its agony it seemed about to do one final act of violence, but any rage was cut short by a feathered shaft loosed from Garalias’ bow, which found its mark in some vital spot or other.

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    Party Surprise (1 in 2) – Succeeded.
    Surprise Round – Shantela charges Shambling Mound; Danath charges and hits Shambling Mound (1d8+4 = 9); Alarian charges Shambling Mound.
    Round One – Shantela misses Shambling Mound; Alarian hits Shambling Mound (1d8+1 = 4); Danath misses Shambling Mound; Shambling Mound misses Danath and Alarian; Shantela misses Shambling Mound; Danath misses Shambling Mound.
    Round Two – Shambling Mound hits Danath twice (4d6 = 10); Danath entangled; Alarian misses Shambling Mound; Shantela misses Shambling Mound.
    Round Three – Shantela hits Shambling Mound (1d12+4 = 10); Alarian misses Shambling Mound; Garalias shoots Shambling Mound (1d6+1 = 5); Shambling Mound slain.


    With the creature dead, Shantela and Alarian set about cutting Danath free from the mass of rotting vegetation that constituted its body. Seeing that the task was well tended to, Garalias began a closer investigation of the cavern. Within a short time, and with some surprise, he happened upon another wooden casket, and proceeded to open it. Woe to him that acts in haste and without thought! No sooner had he forced open the lid, than several darts shot out of a secret recess, one of which pierced both robe and flesh. He was quick to pluck it out, but knew with a ghastly certainty that the barb had been poisoned.

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    Poison Dart Trap = Hits (1d3 = 2); poison.
    Garalias Saving Throw = (1 in 5) – Success


    Although Garalias turned pale and was afflicted with nausea, upon inspecting the wound, Alarian determined that his life was not likely in danger, as his thick robes had prevented the worst of the attack, and only the very tip of the barb had penetrated his flesh. Though the magician remained apprehensive, his companions soon fell to despoiling the casket, finding it filled with gold coins; atop these lay also a ceramic flask of sweet smelling liquid, and a short coiled length of rope like fungus. The former Alarian identified as being most likely a healing draught of some sort, but little could be made of the latter, despite Garalias’ vigorous shaking of the flaccid fungi.

    Fearing to tarry overlong, the adventurers gave little thought to rest. Alarian swiftly uttered a curative incantation over Danath to ease the injuries he had suffered, and then Nalin led them forth, following the narrow stream that flowed through the passage southwards. They had not gone thirty feet before they became aware of a strange clicking noise. Advancing ahead of his companions, Nalin discovered the source to be a sort of miniature water wheel, attached to which was a wooden funnel that fed into a box. The noise was clearly coming from the box, but for what purpose remained unclear. The thief almost reached into the funnel to see if there was anything inside, but at the last minute thought better of it, the offensive fishy odour emanating from the funnel suggested to him that there was little of value inside. He returned quickly to his companions and led them on.

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    Spell – Cure Light Wounds (1d8 = 6)
    Wandering Monsters (1 in 10) – Failed.

    Last edited by Matthew; 2009-02-12 at 08:34 PM.
    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    You are a most excellent writer Matthew, and this journal is fascinating. I've never played through the adventure in question, so it's an adventure for me too.

    All that I say applies only to myself. You author your own actions and choices. I cannot and will not be responsible for you, nor are you for me, regardless of situation or circumstance.

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    I am glad that you are enjoying reading it, Arguskos, and thanks for the compliment! If you are interested, and missed it the first time round, you can read the last journal I posted here: Adventure in Garham.
    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    They followed the stream laden passage for another thirty feet or so before reaching another junction. A second watercourse flowed from the east and joined the first in conflux, before running away south along a downwards sloping tunnel. There was little to choose between one direction over the other, but it was decided to follow the flow of water, and so they turned south and descended further into the darkness. The going was by no means easy; stalactites and stalagmites grew thickly around them, sometimes merging and narrowing the way so that they could proceed only one at a time. These places were of especial discomfort for Danath and Shantela, who were the largest of the companions, but not even Nalin was able to move entirely freely.

    Eventually the obstructions began to thin, and ahead the watercourse once more divided at a junction. Two passages led away east and west, but to Nalin it seemed that he could see a dim light emanating from the latter, and so he advised his fellows to remain where they were and allow him to scout ahead. As silent as a shadow he flitted along the tunnel, and was lost to the sight of his companions for several long minutes. At length he returned to report that the way terminated in a large torch lit cavern, the stream flowing through a shaft in its centre. He had seen there also several strange fibrous cages that seemed to grow from the floor along the south wall, and a larger version of the wooden contraption they had encountered earlier. Imprisoned in the cages he had noted a woman, a man, and a bearded dwarf, though they did not perceive his presence.

    It did not take those five stalwarts long to decide to attempt a rescue; stealthily and warily they went forth. Upon entering the cavern they noted an exit in the northwest wall that Nalin had been unable to see from the entrance. No words were needed; the halfling moved swiftly and quietly to see what could be seen, whilst his fellows headed towards the cages with the intent of freeing the prisoners. What Nalin found was not much to his liking. Beyond the opening was a smaller cave, from the ceiling of which he could see suspended several large pod like objects. Tending to the pods were more than half a dozen man shaped creatures, but their similarity ended with their shape, for they were more plant than man. Bulbous eyed and with strange gaps in their bodies they shambled around the cavern; they wore no clothes, though knobbly growths of fungus clung to their pale flesh. With a sense of horror, Nalin watched the monstrous mockeries for a while, before silently slinking back with the news to his companions.

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    Move Silently (3 in 10) – Succeeded.
    Party Surprise (5 in 6) – Succeeded.

    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    Meanwhile, the cages were proving to be a cause of considerable consternation; the rubbery fibre that constituted the bars had shown itself to be highly resistant to being cut or otherwise damaged, perhaps even entirely impervious. It seemed that it would be no easy task to free the prisoners, and with their captors so near time was against the would be rescuers. Unwilling to ignore the whispered pleas of the desperate captives, a simple plan was formed to lure the pod men into an ambush, and destroy them by sword and spell. Whilst the others readied their weapons and armour, Shantela circled around to the northeast and hid herself in the entrance. At her signal, Nalin, bow in hand, crept back to where he had sighted the creatures, nocked an arrow, and let fly into the gloom.

    The reaction of the pod men was immediate, and the halfling was much afraid he would be outpaced, but their shambling gait was not swift enough to catch him. They came on all in a mass, showing little intelligence or purpose beyond the pursuit, and were easily led into the trap prepared for them. Almost as soon as the first of their number was visible, Danath and Aralias leapt to the attack, whilst Garalias intoned an eldritch invocation. The suddenness of their frontal assault was matched by Shantela, who sprang from the shadows to attack the rear of the enemy. She struck with her two handed scimitar to deadly effect, hewing heads from shoulders and severing limbs from bodies, whilst her companions dealt bitter blows to the front ranks of their unfortunate opponents. Even as their steel did its work, two pod men fell senseless to the ground without ever coming within reach, victims of sorcery they were easily dealt with. The plant men strove doughtily, hammering upon their foes with mighty fists, but their efforts were all for nought; not even the two stragglers who came late to the melee could change the outcome, and at last only their dismembered remains lay strewn over the cavern floor.

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    Move Silently (3 in 10) – Failed.
    Party Surprise (1 in 2) – Succeeded.
    Surprise Round – Nalin shoots a Pod Man (1d6 = 3)
    Round One – Galarias casts sleep; Pod Man disabled; Shantela charges and hits a Pod Man (1d12+6 = 14); Pod Man slain; Danath charges and hits a Pod Man (1d8+6 = 13); Pod Man slain; Alarian charges and hits a Pod Man (1d8+3 = 8); Pod Man twice misses Shantela; Pod Man twice misses Danath; Pod Man twice misses Alarian; Pod Man misses and hits Shantela (1d6 = 2); Pod Man twice misses Danath.
    Round Two – Shantela hits Pod Man (1d12+4 = 12); Alarian hits Pod Man (1d8+1 = 6); Pod Man slain; Danath hits Pod Man (1d8+4 = 10); Galarias casts sleep; Pod Man disabled; Pod Man misses and hits Shantela (1d6 = 3); Pod Man twice misses Danath; Pod Man misses and hits Alarian (1d6 = 5).
    Round Three – Shantela hits Pod Man (1d12+4 = 10); Pod Man slain; Danath misses Pod Man; Alarian misses Pod Man; Nalin hits Pod Man (1d8 = 4); Pod Man slain; Pod Man twice misses Shantela; Pod Man twice misses Danath; Shantela misses Pod Man; Danath misses Pod Man.
    Round Four – Shantela hits Pod Man (1d12+4 = 14); Pod Man slain; Danath misses Pod Man; Alarian hits Pod Man (1d8+1 = 4); Nalin misses Pod man; Pod Man twice misses Alarian.
    Round Five – Shantela hits Pod Man (1d12+4 = 16); Pod Man slain.


    Each of the companions had played his part, and even Navin had struck a deadly blow or two at close quarters; enthused by their success, and wiping the blue green ichor from their blades, they returned their attention to freeing the prisoners. Although the thick bars showed no sign of submitting to hard blows or cuts, it was discovered that they could be forced apart for brief moments before snapping back into shape. After a short rest to recoup their strength, Danath and Shantela set to work against the bars, and after some not inconsiderable exertions were able to prise open the bars of each cage long enough to free the man and woman. However, when it came to the turn of the dwarf, they found him oddly disinterested in their efforts and he neither replied to their questions, nor seemed to hear them at all. Galarias suggested that he might be enchanted in some way, and so it was decided that it would be best to come back for him later.

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    Wandering Monsters (1 in 6) – Failed.

    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    Don't leave us hanging!

    I just started running this module myself. My party had a much more difficult time with the shambling mound. I look forward to if/when they reach the prisoners and try to free the 'dwarf.'

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    I remember reading your review of this module, so it is very cool to actually read a journal of how it is playing out. Keep up the good work.
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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    Thanks for the kind words; this journal kind of fell to the bottom of my list of things to do, but I have been meaning to finish it off for a long while now. Look for an update in a couple of days, in the meantime I would be interested to hear your experiences of the module, JadedDM. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised when my players decided to take on the shambling mound, and also at how quickly they dispatched it, but I suppose fortune favours the bold and all that!
    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    What, you mean start my own campaign log? We're only two sessions in so far. We're using 2E and I had the players start at level 1 instead of 2, as I figured the power boost from 2E would balance things out.

    My party did not find the key, but rather the thief tried to pick the keyhole (and failed) so the fighter pushed on the door. I gave her a Bend Bars check, knowing she would fail (she needed 4 or less on 100) and she rolled a 3...so I ruled she pushed it open to divert the waterfall, and subsequently broke it.

    The paladin in the group had a flask of greek fire, and the party came up with the plan to burn the shambling mound. The MM describes shamblers as being immune to fire, but also claims it's because they're wet. So I ruled the water ignited the greek fire and allowed their plan to work. However, most of them needed a 19 or higher to hit it, and piercing and slashing weapons only do half-damage, so even with only 27 HP, they had a hell of a time with it. The paladin almost died, in fact.

    But man, they were so determined to get that treasure.

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    So much to do, one thing pushing out the other...

    The former prisoners introduced themselves as Merithina, mistress of an ill fated merchant caravan, and Ulster, the last of her bodyguards left alive; five other guards had been captured with them, but four were already slain, each fed in turn into the mincing machine before the eyes of their horrified fellows. The fate of their fifth companion, Thuskar, was less certain, as he had not been seen since they were first brought to the caverns, but Merithina expressed hope that he might yet live. Emboldened by their victory over the plant men, none were yet ready to yield and return to the sun warmed surface world. Readying their weapons and shouldering their packs they set forth with new fellows in tow, to seek the missing Thuskar, and perhaps the root of the evil that now filled the gloomy caverns and twisting tunnels of the underworld. Once more Nalin took the lead; back to the junction, east and then south they went, following the course of the water laden passage. After some distance, a second junction was encountered, but the side way was ignored and the party pressed on south until the halfling signalled a halt. He flitted ahead and disappeared from view for a short time before returning to make his report. Another guarded cavern, he said, but with a strange feature, a great tree stands in its centre, chained and mortared to the ground; some sorcery, no doubt.

    Spoiler
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    Move Silently (3 in 10): Succeeded.
    Party Surprise (5 in 6): Succeeded.


    It seemed no great task to enter the place, only the same strange tenticular guardians that had earlier sought to bar their way. Danath and Shantela drew their blades and stalked forth; their purpose clear, they were swiftly upon the unnatural things and felled them with mighty blows that hewed fiercely through the rubbery plant flesh, ending any threat they might have posed.

    Spoiler
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    Party Surprise (1 in 3): Succeeded.
    Surprise Round: Danath hits snagwort (1d8+4 = 10); Shantela hits snagwort (1d12+3 = 15); snagwort slain.
    Round One: Shantela hits snagwort (1d12+3 = 12); snagwort slain.


    Standing at the entrance to the cavern, the companions looked upon the tree and wondered what its apparent captivity might portend. Dangerous, perhaps? An organism too wild for even the pod men to control? Rebel, maybe? Surely not native to this place. Nalin volunteered to take the danger upon himself, and ventured forth alone into the shadow of the great tree; he approached it slowly and with great care, keeping his eyes fixed upon it for any sign of hostility. So focused was his attention, in fact, that he failed entirely to perceive the real danger until it was all too late, and from above dropped a reddish moss, engulfing the halfling from head to hairy toe.
    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    Hesitant to act with perils unknown, the companions were quick to react once the danger was revealed. All rushed into the chamber to strike blows upon the creature that now turned an almost scarlet hue. Wary of harming their friend in the effort to save him, they knocked him to the ground, but no part of his body could be seen free from the blood red moss. With little recourse remaining, Shantela struck a blow with her great curved sword that sliced the thing from top to bottom; her aim was true, for Nalin was unharmed by her efforts, though blood spurted forth. Danath and Galarias thrust their blades into the now quivering creature, whilst Alarian pulled their comrade free. Expecting only gratitude, the cleric was unprepared when the halfling drew his short sword and made to stab him, a blood red madness in his eyes. His mail turned aside the blade, and a mailed fist sent his attacker spiralling from the waking world into darkness.

    Spoiler
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    Monster Surprise (2 in 3): Succeeded.
    Surprise Round: Vampiric Moss latches onto Nalin.
    Round One: Vampiric Moss hits Nalin (1d4 = 2); Nalin passes saving throw (1 in 5); Shantela, Danath, Galarias, and Alarian rush to his aid.
    Round Two: Vampiric Moss hits Nalin (1d4 = 3); Nalin fails saving throw (1 in 5); Shantela hits Vampiric Moss (1d12+4 = 14); Danath hits Vampiric Moss (1d8+4 = 5); Garalias hits Vampiric Moss (1d8+1 = 2); Vampiric Moss slain.
    Round Three: Nalin misses Alarian; Alarian hits Nalin (2); Nalin unconscious.


    With Nalin unconscious the party was at a momentary loss as to how to proceed; his sharp eyes and scouting expertise were of great aid, but reviving him might only serve to bring a madman into their midst. As they stood, pondering their new predicament, a voice intruded upon their thoughts. The sound emanated from the tree, elvish words spoken in a deep and resonating tone, though occasionally cracking like bark, as though it lacked sufficient water. Garalias took it upon himself to speak for the party, as aside from Alarian the others were only passingly familiar with the language. It was soon established that the creature was indeed a treant, caught and imprisoned by the pod men at the behest of their sorcerous master. His name was Leafloam, and he claimed to have been a prisoner for a long time, though to what purpose he was uncertain. The pod men harvested his seeds, such that he produced in this sun starved place, but he never heard tell of what evil use they were put to.

    Another passage led east from the chamber, and the companions were keen to see what lay beyond; it was therefore decided to leave Nalin with the treant, and for Merithina and Ulster keep guard upon them, whilst an attempt was made to ascertain whether the sorcerer was nearby. Leafloam warned the party that another pair of “snagworts” guarded the entrance to the passage, and being forewarned they were forearmed, dealing easily with the creatures. It took only a few blows from their blades to sever the plants from their places of purchase, leaving their limbs shrivelling upon the cavern floor.

    Spoiler
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    Round One: Danath hits Snagwort (1d8+4 = 8); Shantela hits Snagwort (1d12+4 = 9).
    Round Two: Danath hits Snagwort (1d8+4 = 12); Shantela hits Snagwort (1d12+4 = 6).

    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    With more faith in steel than stealth, Danath and Shantela led the way along the passage, winding on for a while eastward before terminating in a rough stone-cut room. In its centre was what appeared to be a long wooden chair, around which were set articulated stalks that bristled ominously with ligneous needles in the torchlight. Off to the side stood a rack of bottles filled with strange looking liquids and potions. The stream that they had been following terminated here, gushing through a grate in the floor. A door could be seen set into the eastern end of the north wall, standing slightly ajar. Weapons already drawn, they slipped stealthily within, giving the central contraption a wide berth and ignoring the wall mounted bottles. Shantela made her way carefully to the open postern and peered through into the chamber beyond.

    Spoiler
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    Wandering Monsters (1 in 6) – Failed.


    A slow fire was burning below one of three large cauldrons mounted on low stone tripods, and above hung a large pod, unlike the others encountered in colouration, being a pinkish red. Nearby stood a long worktable, scrolls of velum strewn across its surface, partially obscured by wisps of greenish smoke gently rising from the broiling contents of the heated vat. To the west, a stream of water flowed from an open passage into a grate in the floor, whilst closed doors in the north and east wall promised further secrets. Danath led the way, his companions close behind; they approached the cauldrons and hanging pod, whilst Garalias paused to leaf through the papers on the table. The unusual coloration of the pod prompted them to cut it down, and set to work on it with daggers. Once the outer layer was sheared away, the familiar, somewhat fishy, stench and slime of the insides assailed their senses, but more horrible was the hybrid inside, part man and part plant it seemed. Danath and Alarian advised slaying the creature out of hand, and the former had half made to do so before Shantela stopped him. She reasoned that if this were Thuskar, he might well yet be saved and restored, perhaps if Garalias was given time to investigate the notes; certainly, the creature seemed more afraid than threatening. Having some compassion and not bereft of hope, her fellows agreed to spare the unfortunate, but all were agreed that there were more immediately pressing matters at hand.
    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    Whilst the others stood tensely nearby, Garalias approached the door in the east wall, and pressed his ear up against it; after a few moments he indicated that all was quiet beyond. Shantela tried the handle, and finding the door unlocked led her companions through. They found themselves in a large and circular stone chamber, lavishly furnished with tapestries, a great reclined couch draped in fabrics, a large cabinet, a water pipe on a low table, and an enormous coal filled brazier. To the north and south stood double doors, and another to the east, opposite that by which they had entered. Surmising that the southern doors corresponded with those left unopened in the previous room, the companions made their way towards the east. That their approach was being watched they had little inkling, and so they caught by surprise when the door swung open to reveal two large pod men, and behind them a still stranger creature. Shaped like a giant toadstool, but to the height of a man, girded with sword and dagger, and having both two spindly arms sprouting from its trunk, and two horrible eyes beneath its cap, it began to speak arcane words from an aperture in its form and gesture, even as its minions rushed forth.

    The pod men struck with mighty fists, but to little avail, the mail clad fighters bore the blows, warding off the worst with sword and shield. Galarias was not so fortunate, entranced by the baleful eyes of the monster, he saw there only desire for true friendship and an end to hostility. As his companions battled with the pod men he felt only confusion and a certainty that there had been a terrible misunderstanding, so did the power of the enchantment work upon his mind. The combat was fierce, and the pod men were soon reinforced by six more of their fellows that entered from the west and north. The sorcerer plied many other spells, one that enlarged one of its servants to an even greater size, and others that caused bolts of fire and force to strike down Danath, but not before he wrought great carnage upon the pod men with his blade. Alarian uttered blessings and words of healing, invoking his deity and striking hard with his mace, but he was hard put to defend himself, and soon forced to retreat within a spell woven sanctuary. Nevertheless, Shantela was undeterred, her two-handed blade severed limbs and shattered fibrous skulls as she fought her way past the pod men and towards their master.

    Overconfident, the sorcerer sought to cast a spell of entrapment that would render the invaders helpless, but it had not counted on Garalias. Upon seeing Danath struck down, the confusion that had clouded the mind of the elf magician lifted, and he let loose a bolt of force that foiled the sorcery of the enemy. Seizing her opportunity, Shantela rushed upon the creature and dealt it many a hard blow, shearing into sinewy flesh as the it tried feebly to defend itself by blade. Seeing that it could not expect to prevail against the fighting-woman, the sorcerer sought to flee, but it could not escape her sword and soon lay unmoving and prostrate on the stone flagstoned floor. Bloody and exhausted, the companions looked upon the scene of slaughter and fallen Danath; there was life still yet in him, but his wounds were grave. They seized anything of value they could lay hands on and beat a hasty retreat to where they had left the others. In the semi-darkness of the torch lit cavern, they weighed their gains and losses, whilst considering how they might best make their escape from the former lair of the sinister shroom.

    Spoiler
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    Monster Surprise (2 in 3): Succeeded.
    Surprise Round: The Shroom casts charm on Galarias (failed saving throw, 13+); large pod men attack Danath (3) and Shantela (4).
    Round One: Alarian casts bless; Danath attacks large pod man (7); Shantela attacks large pod man (8, 16); Shroom casts enlarge on large pod man; large pod men attack Danath and Shantela (2).
    Round Two: Alarian attacks Large Pod Man (4), Danath attacks Large Pod Man (10), and Shantela slays large pod man (11); Shroom casts magic missile on Danath (4); large pod man attacks Danath (4).
    Round Three: Pod Men reinforcements arrive; Danath attacks Large Pod Man (10); Alarian slays Large Pod Man (3); Shantela slays pod man (15); Thuskar attacks pod man (4); pod men attack Alarian (4) and Shantela (1, 4, 2, 2); Shroom casts fire arrow on Danath (4); Danath slays pod man (13); Shantela attacks pod man (6).
    Round Four: Alarian casts cure light wounds on Shantela (4); Danath slays pod man (11); Shantela slays pod man (15); Galarias attacks pod man (4); pod man attacks Alarian (2); large pod man attacks Shantela (3).
    Round Five: Alarian casts sanctuary; Danath attacks pod man (6, 7); Shantela attacks large pod man (10); large pod man attacks Shantela (4); Shantela slays large pod man (15); Shroom casts magic missile and strikes down Danath (2); Galarias passes saving throw (13+).
    Round Six: Galarias casts magic missile on the shroom (7); Shantela attacks the shroom (16)
    Round Seven: Galarias slays pod man (2); Shantela slays the shroom (12, 15)


    And that was pretty much where we ended things, as it had turned midnight; Dan and I had missed our train and had to get the night bus home.
    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    Post Adventure Analysis

    The Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom was a lot of fun to play, but I do wonder how suitable it would really have been for a party of six level four characters, especially if accompanied by the henchmen and hirelings usually assumed in traditional adventure modules. To be sure, the player characters we were using were slightly stronger than what OSRIC or AD&D would typically endorse, and had quite high attributes and lucky hit point rolls, but then they was only five of them and they were only second level, maybe the equivalent of third for OSRIC or AD&D.

    There were two types of pod man in the adventure, the ordinary medium-sized sort and the supposedly more formidable large-sized versions. At 3+1 and 4+1 hit dice respectively, and with two attacks, they do sound like a thread, but with an armour class of 9, even a lowly first level fighter with a THAC0 of 20 has a 50% chance of hitting them. A movement rate of 6 also makes them rather easy to elude. The statistics I used were:

    Snagworts: M 1; AC 6; HD 3; DR 1; FA 3; #A 1; D 1-6
    Vampiric Moss: M 2; AC 4; HD 3; DR 1; FA 3; #A 1; D 1-6
    Pod Man: M 6; AC 9; HD 3+1; FA 3(4); #A 2; D 2-7/2-7
    Large Pod Man: M 6; AC 9; HD 4+1; FA 4(6); #A 2; D 3-8/3-8
    Sinister Shroom: M 9; AC 6; HD 6+1; FA 6(7); #A 1; D 2-9

    AD&D would have given them a fighting ability of 4 and 5, respectively, as would OSRIC. I upped the damage because we use damage reduction for armour (DR 1 for mail), so I usually add 1 for each pip after the hit die. So, the pod-men were about the same as AD&D and OSRIC would rate them, slightly more potent against unarmoured characters, and the large versions had an additional +1 FA. The player characters had very ordinary armour classes of 4 or so; Shantela actually had a slightly worse armour class than if we were playing OSRIC or AD&D, as her dexterity of 17 only granted a −2 modifier, rather than −3. The medium pod-men thus had something like a 45-50% chance of scoring a hit and the large pod-men 55-60%. Pretty formidable when you consider that each has two attacks.

    The fighting ability and damage dealing power of the player characters was somewhat higher than in AD&D or OSRIC. Even strengths of 17 and 18 would probably only be granting +1 to hit and +1 or +2 to damage, whilst we were going with +2/+2 and +3/+3, respectively, and adding an additional +1/+1 for being a fighter or using a two-handed weapon. That meant that Shantela and Danath had a 80% chance of hitting the pod-men and were doing 5-12 and 5-16 damage respectively. Still, with most medium sized pod-men having 13 hit points and the large sorts 20-30, bringing one down in a single blow was a matter of luck, which Miranda had plenty of, as I recall. She was rolling in the top third of that d12 all night.

    The damage is not too different from what OSRIC and AD&D allow for once weapon specialisation is calculated in, it would have been something like 6-13 and 4-13, respectively, and against large opponents (such as large pod-men) 6-17 and 6-21. The hit probabilities were probably the biggest difference, as an AD&D or OSRIC fighter would have had an FA more like 1(3), which is to say around 65% against the pod-men. That is a fairly big difference, admittedly, equivalent to a fourth or fifth level AD&D character. Nalin, Aralian, and Garalias enjoyed similarly higher levels of fighting ability of the order of perhaps one or two levels.

    I am quite generous with spell casting, rarely requiring players to choose spells beforehand, but limiting the list of available spells (clerics have to learn their spells just like magicians). In AD&D or OSRIC Alarian would have had 4 first level slots, and Garalias would have had 2, but both had 5 for the purposes of this module. Garalias also notably had access to better weaponry and armour than a typical AD&D magician, but this would have been true if he were a fighter/magician type, so it seemed reasonable to me to allow that leeway. The character was originally rolled up by Dan's younger brother for their foray into the Dark Château, which somewhat explains my leniency.

    At any rate, what was good for the goose was good for the gander, as I gave the sinister shroom the same leeway. The spell flame arrow was not included in OSRIC as a second level spell (as it was listed in the module), which threw me off, so I ended up improvising on the day. Since we were playing that magic missiles did 1d6+1 damage (an increase from 1d4+1 to account for DR), I ruled that a flame arrow did 2d6+2 damage. A pity the shroom did not manage to cast his web spell, as he would have then been able to make his escape (or maybe even finish off the held player characters) through the east exit, dropping a portcullis behind him; c'iest la vie, I suppose.

    Although we played for something like eight hours, the adventurers took what turned out to be the shortest path to their goal. They were lucky with the wandering monsters and similarly fortunate when it came to rolling the combat dice. By the end of the session, though, they were pretty much out of resources with two characters down, and getting out of the complex was looking very dicey. There was probably another session or two worth of adventure in the module, so I think on the whole it might well have been appropriate for a party of 6-8 adventurers of levels 2-4, though with the qualification that eight level four characters with henchmen and hirelings would likely have had too easy a time of it. It would be more suitable played in reverse for such a party [i.e. a group seeking a way out of the underdark].
    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    Well, that looks like it turned out better than my run-through. Thanks for the updates.

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    No problem; so what happened on your run through?
    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    Drama explosion. Two of my players ganged up on the third, and decided I should throw her out because she did not take the game as seriously as they did (by which I mean, she did not spend all of her free time working on a 10 page backstory, etc. for a freakin' dungeon crawl module). I told them no, that D&D is not 'serious business' and it's not their call to decide how much homework a player should do to be in MY game.

    So they both quit. Bleh.

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    Default Re: [Journal] Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

    Yikes! Sounds like you probably had a lucky escape, to be honest, but I cannot imagine that was a very pleasant evening. Well, best of luck finding some more reasonable players!
    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one’s own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

    – Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350), Tsurezure-Gusa (1340)

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