Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 4

[This session the players hopefully learned that acting out their characters actions means that is what their character is doing right then.  Also, patience is a virtue.]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

Tunrock Shadowfury – male-ish Elven Spellsword [he’s an elf – what do you want?], exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Jersen the Frail – male human cleric of Herne the Hunter [you know why he’s here]
Radagast the Wanderer – male human Mage, exploring Barrow…you know the rest
Hyles the Young – male human fighter, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Harkyn – gender fluid Elven Nightblade, 2nd level
Marcus the Black, of House Dunsmore – male human Assassin, seeking wealth to restore his family lands to his family [Read: “exploring Barrowmaze for the loot”]

Norman – male human guide, hired to lead the adventurers to Barrowmaze but not fight
Chick-Magnet – female war dog (0-level), actually a male man-at-arms cursed into a different form

Cromsday, April 18, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The group decided to spend a week in Helix so Harkyn could learn the Shield spell from the scroll they bought in Ironguard Motte.  Marcus made a deal with Tripp: when Marcus had the coin, he would pay to have Tripp’s knee restored, but Tripp would owe Marcus a major favor.  Tripp agreed to this as otherwise his adventuring career was effectively over.  Radagast and Tunrock talked and realized they each had a spell the other wanted and spent the week swapping Read Lead Languages for Light between each other.  After spending the week in Helix, the group re-hired Norman and Chick Magnet for another expedition into the Barrowmoor.

Hiking through the quiet but now somewhat familiar Barrowmoor, the group spotted a cluster of 7 zombies wandering the moors.  The group quickly agreed to avoid the zombies and evaded them.

Once arrived at the field of barrows, the group selected the next available barrow to investigate [#10].  Hyles borrowed Radagast’s sledgehammer and spent the next 20 minutes smashing through the stone seal.  Inside was a simple tomb with a wooden funerary casket in the shape of a man resting on a dais in the center of the chamber under the mound.  The adventurers checked the ceiling before entering the chamber and searching for secret doors [none of the current group have the ability to detect traps without doing it the hard way].  The only thing located was a set of eight amphorae mounted on the walls, depicting life in an ancient village near the moor.  They were fragile, so the group decided to leave them here and retrieve them later.

Looking around from this mound, the group noticed that the next closest mound was not actually on their map.  Intrigued, they decide to investigate that one next.  [This is Barrow #19.]  Once again Hyles did the hard work of smashing the stone seal.  Just as he finished breaking open the barrow, a small group of three skeletons wandered up.  Harkyn and Marcus tag-teamed one of the skeletons, destroying it, before Jersen the Frail called upon the power of Herne to send the last two skeletons fleeing.

The group descended into the barrow, leaving Norman as a lookout on the surface.  The central chamber had three corridors leading away…and a secret door right beside the stairs that both Harkyn and Tunrock immediately noticed.  While the rest of the group puzzled out how to safely open the secret door, Hyles the Young checked the three passages out of the room.  The one on the left dead-ended, the one across from the stairs narrowed to only five feet before turning, and the one on the right ended with a metal-bound wooden door.

About this time, Norman came running down the stairs and reported that the two skeletons had returned.  The group quickly destroyed them.  They then turned back to the secret door and opened it.  Behind the secret door was a small room with a low altar.  On the altar was a funerary box containing bones and a silver ring with inset diamonds.  The group added the ring to the treasure sack, replaced and closed the funerary box, and closed the secret door.

The group decided to check the narrow passage next, but it dead-ended just around the corner.  The elves could not locate a secret door here, so they went back to the central chamber and checked the dead end to the left of the stairs.  This, of course, held a secret door.  Behind this secret door was a large chamber with an equally large statue depicting an elf warrior fighting three lizardmen.  The figures were life-sized and the elf’s sword glowed, lighting the room as if it were a torch.  There was a metal-bound wooden door on the right-hand wall.

The adventurers were certain that as soon as someone touched the sword, one or more of the statues would animate and a fight would happen.  They discussed ways to mitigate this, including tying rope around the statues or driving spikes through their feet to pin them in place.  Before anything was decided, Hyles asked if everyone was ready and, without waiting for an answer, grabbed the sword.

The lizardmen statues immediately animated.

Not surprised but not ready either, the adventurers attacked the statues.  Hyles struck a mighty blow against the statue nearest him [max damage of 8 points], but it kept moving [it had 22 hit points].  Harkyn backed up Hyles’ attack, but it was not enough to destroy it ["only" another 5 points of damage].  The rest of the adventurers did minimal effect before the animated statues attacked [the statues had the lowest initiative].  Now up to speed, the statues unleashed a flurry of attacks [they had two attacks each] and felled Marcus and Hyles with one massive blow each [2d6 for damage and I was rolling high].  Harkyn was also struck, but survived due to their experience [Harkyn is 2nd level and the extra die of hit points saved them].

Realizing they were out matched by the animated statues, most of the adventurers immediately fled.  Tunrock and Chick Magnet staged a fighting withdrawal.  Chick Magnet grabbed the glowing sword in his mouth and fell back to the doorway.  Tunrock wanted to get through the doorway but couldn’t quite do it [half move only when doing a fighting withdrawal action].  Luckily, the animated stone statues were also slow and only one reached him to attack.  It missed with both attacks.  The next round Chick Magnet fled and Tunrock was just able to get through the secret door and pull it closed on the statues.  The statues piled into the door, but did not attempt to bash it open.  [I ruled the statues were programmed to target intruders they could detect and once the door closed, they could no longer detect intruders and so stopped attacking.  But woe to the next people opening this secret door…]

Demoralized and wounded [plus wanting to give the other two players a chance to get back into the game], the adventurers returned back to Helix early.  Along the way they noticed a flight of pterodactyls following them and used their previous experience trying to escape pterodactyls to evade this group.

Back in Helix, Harkyn made a donation to the Shrine of Ygg for some healing [they are still down 2 hit points].  The adventurers spent the rest of the day and the evening recruiting replacement adventurers: Frank, a cleric, and Quillian the Green, a mage.  [I also assigned experience for this trip to those who survived.]

There was a debate as to whether or not to sell the glowing sword or not and who would get a cut from the sale.  Chick Magnet wanted a cut as reward for retrieving it.  The adventurers were OK with granting him a cut, but Jersen was adamant that Chick Magnet was not owed the cut.  This argument started getting a bit heated, so the group agreed to go to Osen for arbitrage.  Osen ruled that the terms of the contract clearly stated Chick Magnet got paid a flat amount and was not entitled to any shares of treasure.  Jersen and Chick Magnet both accepted the ruling and then Jersen gave Chick Magnet 200 gp, which would have been a share of the sale of the sword if the group had not decided to keep the sword.  [The sword had Continual Light on it as a permanent feature, which the group decided was too useful to sell.  I counted the 200 gp as experience points for Chick Magnet.]

Freysday, April 19, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Early the next morning, the adventurers met up with Norman and Chick Magnet and headed south again.  On the way to the field of barrows, the group avoided a swarm of insects [but never getting close enough to see what the swarm was feeding on…].

After a short debate, the group returned to the same barrow they had fled the previous day [#19].  They VERY cautiously re-entered the barrow and found the secret door still closed.  Somewhat relieved, they investigated the regular door down the right-hand corridor.  Beyond ten more feet of corridor was a 30-foot wide room.  Against the back wall was a pedestal with a large amphorae and a tablet resting on it.  Frank borrowed Quillian’s staff and used it to prod the floor in front of him as he moved in, discovering a pit trap and avoiding it.

Harkyn and Tunrock looked around for secret doors while Frank and Jersen checked out the pedestal.  The amphorae was very ornate and sturdy, probably worth a good deal back in town.  Jersen read the tablet and received a blessing!  [This was a Runic Tablet and he randomly received an automatic success on his next saving throw.]

With nothing else in that barrow they could get to [there was another door in the room with the statues, but they knew death waited for them in there], the group made their way to the next barrow [#20].  They found the barrow already open and plundered.  Inside was a broken sarcophagus decorated in bas relief with skeletons dancing in the Underworld.  Looking around, Harkyn and Tunrock realized that the sarcophagus was some sort of secret door [scrapes on the floor], but they had no idea how to open it.  [At this point I explained to the players that this was a puzzle and they had to solve it without dice rolls, old school style.]

Radagast investigated the skeleton bas reliefs and discovered one of the skeletons was slightly more worn than the others.  He fiddled with it and it wiggled, but could not turn due to the sculptures to either side of it, so he pulled on it.  It slid part way out!  He turned it to the left and pushed it back in, which audibly released something.  Pushing on the sarcophagus, the feet end slid sideways, revealing a slender staircase lined with dust, cobwebs, and distinct footprints. This staircase was used recently!

The group descended deeper into the earth.  The stairs ended in a narrow, dusty hallway full of cobwebs that turned east.  Twenty feet along, the narrow hallway ended in a T-intersection with a wider passage that ran beyond light range either way.  There was an arch in the opposite wall a little to the right that seemed to offer access to a parallel hallway, which had some debris on the floor.  When investigated, it turned out to dead-end either way after ten feet.  Suspecting a secret door, Harkyn and Tunrock moved to the front to investigate.  [Incidentally, Tunrock had the Continual Light sword and was providing most of the light for the adventurers.]

The northern dead-end had a secret door in it, but it also contained a nest of giant centipedes in the floor debris.  The centipedes were quickly killed, but not before they poisoned Harkyn, Frank, and Chick Magnet, making them horribly sick [can only move at ½ speed, and no other physical activity is possible].  With half the group unable to fight, the adventurers decided to return to Helix to recuperate.  They went back to Barrow 19 and retrieved the amphorae before heading north.

On the way back to Helix, the group ran across a hunting party of froglings.  The adventurers negotiated with the froglings, offering the location of the insect swarm in exchange for safe passage.  The froglings decided to accept the offering and let the adventurers pass.

In Helix, the adventurers dealt with H.H.R. Huffnpuff at The Rosy Quartz Jeweler and Money Lender.  The amphorae turned out to be really valuable [for amphorae – 600 gp], so the trip was not for nothing.

End of Session

[Notice I refer to the players as a “group” and not a “team”.  They are still working on their teamwork and this is why several died this session.  Hyles’ player got impatient and triggered the obvious trap before the other characters were ready.  The players are learning that not everything they have access to is within their capabilities and preparation is important.  OSR also stands for “Oh shit! Run!”.]

[That said, the players are also learning that just because they don’t have a skill for something, it doesn’t mean they cannot puzzle things out for themselves.  Radagast’s player worked out how to open the SPOILER passage by describing what his character was doing and acting parts of it out.  This was rewarding from a GM perspective.]

[The adventure is running well otherwise.  I would have liked it if the section describing the animated statues had mentioned whether or not the statues would pursue or not, but a ruling was easy and I went with it.  I also need to print out my PDF so I can add tabs.  Trying to get between sections in an electronic file without bookmarks is a bit bothersome.  If I had the full version of Acrobat, I'd fix this in a heartbeat.  Sigh.]

Session 1
Session 2
Session 3

Session 5 [Not yet written]


  1. How the 2 New characters were introduced?

  2. The background for Barrowmaze states that adventurers are now regularly arriving at Helix during "Adventurer Season", when the moors are dry enough to travel. I assume that some of the adventurers show up in ones and twos fairly regularly, looking for someone or a group who know the dangers and/or the way to the barrows. New player characters are drawn from this pool, eagerly falling in with adventurers that have survived the site so far.

    In this case, the party actively recruited from amongst what adventurers have arrived but not formed their own group yet.