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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    YossarianLives's Avatar

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    Jan 2014
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    Default Expedition into Castle Grimbank (OD&D Campaign Journal)

    Years ago, when I had just started playing TTRPGs I discovered White-Box OD&D on the internet. I was immediately enthralled. Something about it just seemed right. In my opinion, this is how D&D is meant to be played.

    In a game like this, things aren't going to be easy. Monsters are terrifying and dangerous. Magic is mysterious and eldritch. Your friends are dying around you. But if you're lucky, clever, and ruthless, you might just survive. If you're even luckier? You might get rich and powerful in the process.

    I'll get to the point. For years I've wanted to run a campaign using the original Dungeons & Dragons ruleset from 1974. Now I finally have the opportunity to do so. I've gathered three (sort of) willing players to enter my own insane, twisted, mega-dungeon: Castle Grimbank. It is an ancient fortress built atop a tall hill, overlooking the majestic Tsell River. Local legends tell of a massive labyrinth that runs for miles underneath the castle. Many intrepid warriors have explored Castle Grimbank over the many years since it was abandoned. Very few have returned.
    I've implemented a few houserules that lower lethality, but beyond that we're playing pretty much by the book.

    We played our first session today but one player was missing due to sickness, she'll probably be back next week.

    Spoiler: The Party
    Show
    "Fuyu Persimmons"
    Don't ask about the name. This player absolutely refuses to roleplay in any shape or form.
    Fuyu is a chaotic human cleric of Kord. He rolled a 17 for his strength but still opted to play a cleric rather than a fighter, which is probably for the best as it creates a more balanced party. Fuyu fights with a lucerne hammer. There's little else to say.

    Ivan
    He's a neutral human fighter. He got lucky with his rolls and ended with charisma and dexterity as his highest rolls. Despite planning to play a sneaky roguish type he ended up wearing plate mail and shield although he still focuses on ranged combat. He has a brother who is deeply in debt to a local gang back home.


    Spoiler: Recruitment and Preparation
    Show
    Our adventure begins in the village of Grimbank which is located on the other side of the Tsell river. It is a small town with less than 100 residents. Fuyu and Ivan who just arrived in Grimbank by boat set about preparing for their expedition in Castle Grimbank. They hire a cleric named Tharp loitering in the tavern looking for companions into Castle Grimbank, they buy some supplies (torches, rations, rope, etc..) and began their journey. They cross an ancient stone bridge across the river and climb up the steep hill toward the castle. They walk through the broken and shattered gates. They tred carefully through the courtyard and into the keep. They enter through the door which is unlocked and proceed down the main hallway ignoring the many doors. They light up a torch and give it to Tharp to carry. They descend down a set of stairs into darkness.


    Spoiler: Exploring
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    They wander around through empty passages and corridors for a while. They find a fountain with completely clear water, a tombstone with a message written in lawful which they cannot read, and a treasure chest hidden behind a secret panel in a fireplace. They ignore all of these things. Eventually they find a room with two orcs guarding a naked man chained to a wall, a kobold tied up with rope, and a vaguely humanoid creature covered in a green carapace that is clearly enraged and is throwing itself against the bars of its cage trying to break out. Our heroes surprise the orcs and dispatch them quickly before the orcs can retaliate. They untie the kobold and question it. The kobold says that the orcs were trying to sell it into slavery. They set the kobold free and in return the kobold shows them the location of the orcs hidden wealth under a loose flagstone. They thank the kobold and it leaves promising to help the adventurers if it ever meets them again. They then release the naked man chained to the wall using a key they found on one of the orcs' bodies. He identifies himself as Necal, a cleric of Heironeous who was adventuring in Grimbank but was ambushed by orcs and left for dead by his companions. He then identifies the horrid creature in the cage as a demon-spawn, the product of breeding between a human and a demon. He also thanks the adventurers profusely and promises to meet them back in Grimbank Village. They move on and continue their adventure. After walking around for a while longer they end up in a massive natural cavern. The cave has three small pillars and one large one which has a small entrance that they cannot see from where they entered. A black dragon is hiding within. A huge treasure chest sits in the corner of the room. They investigate the treasure chest unaware of the presence of the dragon who is sleeping. There is a 75% chance for the dragon to wake up when they touch it's treasure. I roll a 76 on my precentile die and the dragon stirs but remains asleep. They find over 4000 gold pieces and a magical sword in the chest They decide to drag the treasure chest behind them making huge amounts of noise and slowing them down. Due to ridiculously good luck the dragon still slumbers and they decide to leave the dungeon with their loot.


    Spoiler: Getting Lost
    Show
    At this point our heroes get really, really lost and wander around in a circle for over an hour of RL time. They were convinced that following the right wall was the best way to go and wouldn't listen to me. They also decide to abandon all their treasure for no reason. They encounter a zombie at some point and kill it. Eventually I got fed up with their inability to find their way out and just fiat them out of the dungeon. Yay


    Yeah, I realize this wasn't exactly the most encouraging session but I have high hopes for this campaign. We play every Sunday.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Comet's Avatar

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    Default Re: Expedition into Castle Grimbank (OD&D Campaign Journal)

    If they can't find their way out of the dungeon then they starve to death, simple as that

    This kind of stuff is very much my jam. Looking forward to reading more!

    Have you considered giving them additional characters to play? These OD&D expeditions usually feature a party of six or so adventurers to compensate for frequent deaths. Then again this is your dungeon so you might have already made things easy enough to get by with just two or three.

    As for the getting lost thing, definitely stress how important mapping is to your players. Having a clear method of communicating spaces that your players can then translate into a navigable map is a huge part of the fun of these dungeon crawls. Especially with these megadungeons where they're probably going to be visiting the same corridors again and again and finding new secrets with every visit.
    "What can change the nature of a man?"
    __
    Guybrush Threepwood avatar by Ceika

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    YossarianLives's Avatar

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    Jan 2014
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    Vancouver, Canada

    Default Re: Expedition into Castle Grimbank (OD&D Campaign Journal)

    Quote Originally Posted by Comet View Post
    If they can't find their way out of the dungeon then they starve to death, simple as that

    This kind of stuff is very much my jam. Looking forward to reading more!

    Have you considered giving them additional characters to play? These OD&D expeditions usually feature a party of six or so adventurers to compensate for frequent deaths. Then again this is your dungeon so you might have already made things easy enough to get by with just two or three.

    As for the getting lost thing, definitely stress how important mapping is to your players. Having a clear method of communicating spaces that your players can then translate into a navigable map is a huge part of the fun of these dungeon crawls. Especially with these megadungeons where they're probably going to be visiting the same corridors again and again and finding new secrets with every visit.
    Glad you enjoyed it. I decided to not let them starve since this was the first session and I was going easy on them.

    Also one of the players did map the dungeon, but their map was poorly drawn and inaccurate to the point that it probably did more harm than good.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    YossarianLives's Avatar

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    Default Re: Expedition into Castle Grimbank (OD&D Campaign Journal)

    Session 2!

    The third player was present for this session and I'm pleased to say everything went smoother than last time.

    Spoiler: In Once More
    Show
    After resting in town for almost a week after their previous expedition to regain hit points and stock up on more supplies. They divide the loot. Tharp claims a 10% share and Fuyu and Ivan each get a relatively small share of treasure as they left much of their loot in Castle Grimbank last time. They recruit the new party member, a human magic-user named Malsius. She rolled completely average for her ability scores, they are all between 9 and 12, the average for OD&D. She has a deathly phobia of deep, dark water but has several *ahem* influential contacts in the big city. The party also meets up the cleric Necal of who they rescued last session. They buy him some rudimentary equipment and they set off once more for Castle Grimbank, now a party of 5. They cross the bridge, walk up the hill and down the stairs. This time they decide to follow an entirely different route. This time another player is in charge of mapping and things go a bit better. However, after wandering for only a short time they stumble upon a trap. In a large rectangular room a portion of the floor was fake. Fuyu and Tharp step on it and go tumbling down into a dirty pit about 10 feet deep. They get lucky and are not seriously injured, they sustain a few bumps and bruises but nothing important. However, they may not remain safe for long! Malsius and Tharp were the torchbearers but when the floor collapsed Tharp's torch was extinguished rendering the far side of the room dark and shadowy. Only a few moments after the trap was sprung 6 goblins leap out from small tunnels in the walls. Two throw a net over those trapped in the pit, two fire at the party with bows and arrows and the other two grab crude stone spears and advance on the party grinning mischievously. The party manages to hold them off for the present but those in the pit are trapped and helpless! Next round Ivan dispatches one of the goblins with the spears, Necal swings his mace at the other goblin and misses, and Malsius casts charm person on one of the goblin archers bringing the creature entirely under her control. The two goblins who previously held the net now draw small but wicked hatchets and charge the party screaming in a guttural tongue! Ivan receives a powerful blow from a spear but he grits his teeth and keep going. The remaining archer shoots Malsius in the side knocking her out of the fight*. But immediately after he is stabbed through the throat by his now charmed ex-companion. Round 3! Ivan kills the second spear-goblin and Necal rushes to Malsius' side to staunch her bleeding wounds while Ivan holds back the goblins. The goblins again lay into Ivan with their hatchets and he suffers another wound, he's down to 1 HP. The charmed goblin flanks the two goblins battling Ivan and manages to distract them. Round 4 begins. Necal, satisfied is still attending Malsius but it seems Ivan can do no wrong, he strikes down another goblin! The battle continues for a while longer but eventually the last goblin is slain. Tharp and Fuyu are freed and rescued from the pit and the party searches the room finding 300 gold pieces in the goblins tunnels.


    Spoiler: Empty Tunnels, Traps and Rats
    Show
    The party continues for a while longer but after finding a small secure room they lock the door, start a fire in the empty hearth with the convenient pile of firewood and rest for several hours regaining a few HPs and Malsius' spells. Their charmed goblin buddy is still following them and has been dubbed "Jimbo" affectionately. After their rest they mark the location of the saferoom on their map and decide to return there the next time they need to rest in the dungeon. They continue their quest. They are rather confused to find a large number of tunnels and chambers that are completely empty except for some bones, bits of trash and some rats. Then after they've become thoroughly paranoid from the lack of danger they spring another trap! A large axe swings down from the ceiling turning slicing Ivan in half and turning Necal's head into gibs. Slightly shocked, the party grabs the bodies of their party members and starts making their way out of the dungeon. This time their map is much more accurate. They flee the dungeon although they have to hide from a patrol of hobgoblin warriors, they barely avoid detection. They make it out safely and secure a proper burial for their expired comrades.


    And yes, before you ask. I am a ruthless bastard.

    *I houseruled in negative HP, you can have negative hit points equal to your level.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Default Re: Expedition into Castle Grimbank (OD&D Campaign Journal)

    I snorted loudly at: "They find a fountain with completely clear water, a tombstone with a message written in lawful which they cannot read, and a treasure chest hidden behind a secret panel in a fireplace....They ignore all of these things." I feel that sort of sets the tone for the player's actions right there

    You made a pretty interesting encounter out of a 10-ft pit, some goblins and net. That's pretty impressive!

    Also, the party is only slightly shocked at two of their former members exploding via axe? Maybe they're more ready for this than they seemed

    One less NPC party member for you to worry about, although I guess Ivan's player needs a new character. Bummer that it was Necal who died, he seemed on the level. But at lease Jimbo made it!

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