Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 13

[The Revengers trod well used ground, but lived up to their group name in the end!]

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

PCs (The Revengers)
Lothair Foxflight – male human Explorer, 2nd level
Tunrock Shadowfury – male-ish Elven Spellsword [he’s an elf – what do you want?], exploring Barrowmaze for the loot, still 1st level
Boris the Fighter – male human Fighter, 3rd level
Duncan the Lunkan – male human Cleric, looking for some loot and to make a name for himself…but mostly the loot
Jaxby – male-ish Elven Spellsword [yes, another one], also 1st level

Recovering from Injury
Quillian the Green – male human mage, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot to establish a chantry [but mostly for the loot]

[Daphne’s player was out of town and so she was not active]

Dergos – male human guide, still sold on the glory of adventuring
Morgullen – professional torchbearer, prefers to be called ‘Len

Moonday, May 27th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The Revengers met up with Dergos [the hired guide] and ‘Len [the hired torchbearer] at the Mercenary Guild building before heading south into the Barrowmoor.  While marching through the moor, they came upon an insect swarm feasting upon something.  Lothair made use of his ability to evade wilderness encounters and led the group around the area.

Having had success down in the Barrowmaze itself last time, the Revengers decided to explore it further.  They entered Barrow 12 [the large one with the cairns leading up to it].  They made use of the rope dangling from the rusted tripod in the barrow to climb down into the first room of the Barrowmaze.  After assembling in a marching order, they walked down the hallway to the first door on the right and opened the door.  The room had a number of giant ants picking over the corpses of the giant rats the adventurers killed their a couple days ago.  Not liking the look of the situation, they closed the door and went down to the next room, which paralleled this one.

This room was empty last time, so they were not expecting the three steel skeletons loitering in the room.  Not certain what they were facing, Boris and Lothair attacked the steel skeleton nearest the door.  Despite Boris hitting with a heavy blow and Lothair doing maximum damage with his bow, the steel skeleton took no damage from the attacks.  Tunrock stepped in front of Lothair and attacked with his enchanted sword, which damaged the steel skeleton, but the steel skeleton could obviously take a lot more.  The steel skeleton returned the attack on Tunrock, hitting twice, but for nearly minimal damage [4 damage on 2d8], which still nearly killed Tunrock [still 1st level and only 5 hit points].  Jaxby immediately started retreating with the rest of the group performing a mix of fighting withdrawals and full retreats.  Tunrock handed over his sword to Boris so Boris could damage the steel skeletons during the retreat.

The group retreated to the rope to the surface.  Jaxby made it up first, quickly followed by ‘Len.  Jaxby assisted Duncan up next by hauling on the rope as Duncan was a very poor climber.  Jaxby then dropped the rope back into the room for the others to use.  Boris made it 15 feet up the rope, with Lothair below him, and Tunrock on the floor having to make a tough decision.  The steel skeletons were slow, but would make it to the base of the rope before Jaxby and Duncan could start hauling it up.  If Tunrock waited at the rope, the steel skeletons would surely kill him.  So Tunrock ran to the back corner of the 30x30 room and hoped for the best.

The steel skeletons arrived and made for the rope.  One of them reached up and attacked Lothair on the rope, severely wounding him [down to 0 hit points exactly].  Lothair struggled to remain conscious from the blood loss and cling to the rope, but passed out and fell back to the floor just as Jaxby hauled the rope up out of the reach of the steel skeletons.  [I had Lothair’s player attempt to roll under his Constitution on a d20.  This gave him a target number of 9 – he rolled well above that.]

Desperate to escape, Tunrock had Jaxby throw the rope back down.  He tried to make use of his superior speed and run around the steel skeletons, but mistimed it and one of the steel skeletons was able to rake him with one of its claws, dropping him.  Jaxby pulled the rope up when he saw this to keep the steel skeletons from pursuing any further.  Boris tossed a flask of military oil onto the steel skeletons to see if there was any effect.  There wasn’t.

Heavily demoralized and understrength, the surviving members of the Revengers headed back to Helix early.  On their way back to town they came across two “normal” skeletons.  Boris vented all of his anger and frustration on them, shattering them into bone shards [he did 30+ points of damage to each, rolling two natural 20s in a row].

Magusday, May 29th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The remaining Revengers spent two days recruiting and healing up from the encounter with the steel skeletons. They checked who was drinking in the Brazen Strumpet and might be an adventurer, interviewing any likely candidates.  They were able to recruit Godric, a Dwarven Craft-catechist recently arrived to Helix, and Dr. Venom West, a Footpad of some [questionable] refinement.  Jaxby also contracted a porter named Colemore to haul his medicinal herbs and spare gear.

Cromsday, May 30th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The newly reconstituted Revengers met up with their hirelings at the Mercenary Guild building and then headed south, into the Barrowmoor.  Several hours in, the Revengers ran across a new group of adventurers, the Norse Whisperers.  The Norse Whisperers were a bit lost, but not willing to admit it.  Duncan negotiated a deal where the Norse Whisperers would “protect” the Revengers while the Revengers traveled to the field of barrows while the Revengers led the way.

Once at the field of barrows, the Revengers stated they were going to explore the barrows in a clockwise direction.  The Norse Whisperers immediately declared they were exploring in a widdershins direction, but would meet the Revengers here at 4:00 PM to head back and the Revengers better not be late.  The Revengers as a group rolled their eyes and agreed to this.

The Revengers checked barrows 1, 2, 3, 5, 4, and 7, where they found the sealed bronze door.  They investigated it and found the keyhole hidden in one of the pentagrams on the barrow door.  Dr. West attempted to pick the lock and did well enough that he avoided breaking his picks in the magically locked door.  [I had his player roll his Open Locks skill.  Success indicated he determined the lock was magical in nature but his picks were OK, failure indicated he learned the same thing but broke his lock picks in the process.]

From this barrow they continued checking barrows 6, 13, 15, 14, 22, 23, and then 24.  The stairs down into this previously opened barrow led to a 30x30 square chamber with a door in the near right corner and a tapestry in each of the three other corners.  [The players immediately recognized this room, except Duncan’s player, who was out of town when the TPK happened.]

Godric and Dr. West started searching together for traps or secret doors.  Duncan, ‘Len, and Colemore waited at the stairs while Boris and Jaxby waited in the middle of the room.  When Godric and Dr. West moved the first tapestry [far left corner from the stairs] the discovered two ghouls waiting in an alcove behind the tapestry.  Boris immediately charged, swinging his axe.  He hit the first ghoul and cleaved through it into the second ghoul, downing both.  At the sound of combat, two more ghouls stepped out from behind the tapestry in the far right corner and two ghouls plus a ghoul wardog came out from behind the tapestry in the near right corner.  All five ghouls attacked, but landed few blows in the ensuing combat.  Boris killed most of the ghouls, with Jaxby making up the difference.

After the combat was over, the adventurers realized that most of the ghouls they had just killed were the Motley Crew, risen as ghouls, including Chick-Magnet.  With a certain amount of distaste they looted the corpses of those they sought to revenge.  They noticed that Harkyn’s corpse was nowhere to be found.

By this time it was late in the day, so after resting to catch their breath, they returned to the meeting place.  They found the Norse Whisperers there, angry and with empty pockets.  They too found most of the barrows they explored empty and with no treasure.  The Revengers wisely kept the amount of gold they retrieved from the corpses of the Motley Crew to themselves, merely stating that they killed the ghouls.

End of Session

[This session was a bit slow as halfway through, two of the players had to quickly make new characters.  After that, the group explored previously looted barrows, which covered a lot of ground, but was not very enriching until the last barrow of the day.  They did not get all of the coin the dead Motley Crew had on them, but found most of it.  I rolled d% to randomly determine how much of the coinage was still here and not SPOILER.  They found over 6000 gp total.]

[The players lit up when they realized they were in the barrow where their previous characters all died.  They worked to stay in-character with the new characters but were very excited to be returning to this room again.  The dice were kinder this time and the ghouls did not hit with as great a frequency as the first time.  Having cleave attacks and a 3rd level fighter made a huge difference, even with twice as many ghouls.  The players were very satisfied when the fight completed.  They have also cleared most of the previously explored barrows on the north half of the map and are now ready to open previously unexplored barrows.]

[So Barrowmaze has a mechanism for restocking previously explored dungeon rooms (not the barrows).  Almost every room the characters had previously found empty now has monsters in it, most higher in level than the player characters.  The steel skeletons are 8 hit dice monsters and the party just averages 2nd level now, so that was a very lop-sided fight.  These things happen and the party recognized the danger and fled, like they should have.  If they had just fled (full movement) instead of doing fighting withdrawals (half-move only), I think they would have all escaped, but I cannot fault them for being cautious in their retreat.]

[Next session Quillian with be done with his bedrest and available to adventure again.  It will be interesting to see the roleplay that happens as he returns from Ironguard Motte and introduces himself to the new group of adventurers.]

[I’m also cleaning up the links below so they don’t take up more and more real estate.  I may do a separate navigation page listing just the sessions for The Motley Crew and putting it in a widget on the sidebar.  I’m still thinking that over.]

The Motley Crew
Session 1: The Start

Session 11: TPK

The Revengers
Session 12: Rise of the Revengers

Session 14


  1. the steel skeletons ruined the game, why use such a monster ?

  2. Random re-stock of the room. Same with the giant ants and some other stuff they never encountered.

    In hindsight, I think the roll for the level of the replacement monsters could use a different spread or a modifier of some sort to avoid such a huge disparity between what was there originally and what is there as a result of replacement. The current rules roll a d6 and place a monster of levels 1-3 on a 1 or 2, 4-7 on a 3 or 4, and 8-10 on a 5 or 6. That ramps up quickly. Maybe a d8 with a spread of 1-3 for a roll of 1-3, 4-7 for a roll of 4-6, and 8-10 on a roll of 7 or 8.

    That said, neither I nor the players feel that the Steel Skeletons were a disaster. The path that led to two PC deaths could have diverged in several places if one of several die rolls had gone slightly different. Tunrock would have escaped entirely if he had not tied Initiative with the steel skeletons in that final combat round but gone before them [ACKS has no Attacks of Opportunity rules]. The PCs quickly identified the Steel Skeletons as major threats and retreated, just not fast enough for them all to escape. They did too many fighting withdrawals to try and kill one of the Steel Skeletons when they only had one weapon capable of wounding them. Live and learn.