[Actual Play] B2 Beyond the Borderlands (LL) Pt. XXXI; Loose change

Once again our heroes had gathered, this time to pick over the remains of The Necropolis, and to perform one last delve into the Caves of the Unknown. See then Snorri the Dragon-helmed, a stranger in this land of men. With him Nortein, a rugged hunter from the West and veteran of many battles, see also Beorn, a Northron warrior wielding his ancient chieftain sword, Barrin, a hedge mage of sly cunning and Nicodemus, a zealous servant of Aman. They also accepted within their ranks Noldor the Elf, a rather queer son from a somewhat murky and tangled strain of the elven race. It was not long before this demented miscreant helped himself to their funds, and comissioned for himself a lavish suit of plate and yew longbow. Before they had set out they hired the porter Arghu, donated 100 gold to the widow of Titus the porter, asked the prelate to remove the cursed ring of delusion from Beorns finger and kept it for nebulous ends.

Well stocked with rations they set out, and on their way, came upon 6 bandits, that they attacked without question. 5 of the bandits soon fell to their onslaught, and the sixth ran into the woods, to be chased by Nortein. A charm was worked upon him, and soon he became the wizard’s willing companion, telling them all of Bear Hill, including a secret passage used by Lothar. Upon their arrival at the Necropolis, they bequathed 500 of their gold to the Dragon Tenebrous, and in return they slept peacefully, and in the morning, descended into the Necropolis of Nuroman.

Their progress was undeterred until they reached the southern stairwell. There they were set upon by 3 skeletons, and with minimal injury, drove them off and smote them as they clattered down. Once they entered the hallway of statues, they again stumbled onto an animated corpse of Nuromen’s retainers, and this one too they smote. They ventured into the Cave of Bones, and explored the narrow and winding eastern passage that leads deeper into the caverns below it. In the winding corridors, which were so narrow they had to be explored single file, they were set upon by a ghoul, who had followed them and attacked from the rear. Nicodemus the cleric managed to wound the creature, but its loathsome touch laid him low, and he was dealt grievous injuries. The rest moved quickly, and managed to reach the safety of a broader area. With no hesitation, Nortein rushed in to aid, and he too was struck down before he could cast the axe of Vashaka, which returns unerringly to the wielders hand. Behind him was Beorn, who impaled the wretched ghoul before it could feast on the two bodies.

Nicodemus the cleric they gave a potion of healing so he could at least hobble, although his injuries were dire and he could no longer call on the power of Aman. “Too weak for Theurgy, but still Theology remains. There is a lesson in that,” quoth he.
Around the body of Nortein they kept watch, until the ghoul paralysis wore off. Noldor stroked his hair in an unnerving way, and earned many dirty looks. They discovered an eerie patch of yellow mould and decided not to trouble it further. Nortein awoke, and they spent many ticks of the hourglass investigating a nearby underground pond, but found nothing of value within its depths. Beorn broke out the ring of waterwalking and even walked into the centre of the pool, but they found nothing, and on their way were assaulted by the walking dead. Arghu was killed before they took notice. As the passageway to the lake was quite narrow, the dead came on only in single file, and with arrowfire were laid low. After this they took the corpse of Arghu and dumped it into the pond.

They next went north, and found there a cavern bissected by an underground river. Beorn walked across, and as he set foot on the opposite shore, was attacked by three Troglodytes. He detected them by their foul odor, and though he took a nasty wound, he extricated himself, walking onto water where they dared not follow. Barrin called forth a great fall of illusory rock, causing two of them to fall unconscious, thinking themselves slain. The remaining one uttered a superstitious ululation, kicked awake his compatriot, and the two of them dragged their remaining companion away. A stray arrow cut down one of them as they fled.

Feel no shame in this, there is no sin you could commit against these beasts that could offend Aman,” spoke Nicodemus piously.

The champions persued, spanning a rope across the water. On the shores they found 5 gold, and on the fingers of one of the skeletons, a curious ring shaped like intertwined vines. They went north and standing before another river, were confronted with a band of hooting Troglodytes. A sleep spell knocked two of them out, and drove the rest off. Beorn ventured over the river, and cut their throats, but in their campsite found no gold and in the north, they could already hear more of the monstrous things come out from the depths below. Beating a hasty retreat, and taking with him the rope he had so fastidiously tied, the characters fled away, to the sight of dozens of the horrible things, ululating and hissing.

They figured it was time to return. On the winding stairs they were again ambushed by three of the wandering dead, and a stray blow nearly broke Beorn’s helmet, and left him prostrate on the stair, wits addled. They barely cut them down as they moved on. Now with two heavily wounded, and a second potion used to revive Beorn, Barrin cast the floating disk, and they saddled the wounded thereon, and so made their speedy escape to the surface. Before the gate, they encountered there three centipedes that they killed rather then avoided, and thus reached the surface. The ride back was uneventful, though they slaughtered two hobgoblins they came across on the Elfway, and left them there for the animals.

They reached the town with only 5 gold to show for it, and the ring, which was elven forged, and gave the wearer control of plants. Nicodemus they left to heal his wounds, and spend the days in contemplation and penance to Aman for his failure. Beorn recovered from his wounds. And leaving Nicodemus behind they made for the Caverns of the Unknown, to recoup their losses.

Their victories were many, the cost low. They ventured first into the northern caverns where they had fought the gargoyles. Climbing a ledge using their Enchanted Rope, they found thereon a small fortune in platinum and gemstones that the gargoyles had left behind. They wasted no further time and carried it to the keep. Such was their wealth and success that Noldor the elf spent much of his share on debauchery, such as there could be found in the spartan enclosure of the Keep. Barrin studied and learned a new spell.

The day afterwards they made for the Caverns of the Unknown yet again, and in the cavern beyond were accosted by two giant geckos. They cut them down, though one killed Furgh, the charmed bandit they had kept around since then. Everyone eyed Noldor with more disgust as the creature cut open the lizards and inflicted all manner of mutilations upon them. In the ruins of the cavern, they found many chewed bones of orc and kobold, and many tattered piece of equipment, but among that also, the body of the Archpriest of the shrine. Though chewed and mauled, he was still adorned in his fearsome armor, and surrounded by all his terrible weaponry. He had fled into the caverns of the unknown in gaseous form, but had gotten lost, and in the darkness the creatures had taken him.

They took from him his well made ring set with blood red jewels, and his pouch of platinum. Snorri stripped off his plate, and left it there, and instead garbed himself in the priest’s jet black armor, the Armor of Aroghk, of which only Twelve suits were forged. A great kite shield and on it, emblazoned, the red star of Chaos rampant was taken also, and a Staff of the Serpent, crafted in the deserts of the distant south by fell high priests. All these riches they carried off, and went to the Keep, and delivered the Priest’s bones and his amulet to the Castellan. The next day they were named Servant of the Realm, and a grand feast was held, and the Castellan used the occasion to pressure them into pledging to get rid of the pernicious cult of dragon worshippers also.

For indeed, the powers of the Keep had found the identity of the cult that had taken the horn Skraldr. A century ago, the cult of the Obsidean Heart had spread all throughout the duchy of Aegland of the northwestern empire, and inflicted there a reign of terror and human sacrifice such as had not been heard of in centuries. Eventually a band of heroes vanquished the wretched cult in their stronghold of Skull Mountain. Today they are legend, though some are said to have survived and become part of the local criminal element. But years ago, reports of the terrible practices and rites of the Obsidean Heart, had once again begun to resurface. Our heroes pledged, halfheartedly, then and there, to end their reign of terror, and recover the terrible horn.

The Champions
[P] Snorri the Scout (Dwr 4, hp 20)
[S] Beorn (Ftr 3, Hp 15)
[M] Barrin the Wizard (Mu 3, hp 6)
[U] Noldor the Elf (Elf 1, hp 6)
[N] Nortein the Hunter (Ftr 4, hp 18 [still needs reroll])
[T] Nicodemus the Cleric (Clr 2, hp 7)

The Tally
6 Bandits
3 Skeletons
8 Zombies
1 Ghoul
9 Troglodytes
3 Centipedes
2 Hobgoblins

The Price
[A] Otso (MU 1, 3 hp) – Slain by Treachery
[B] Hardroc Sansaxe (Dwr 1, 4 hp) – Died on his feet against the Goblin Foe
[C] Buddy (Ftr 1, 6 hp) – Died in the rearguard against Kobold treachery
[D] Valen (Thf 1, 2 hp) – Felled by Kobold arrow in the Battle of the Warrens
[C] Brother Buddy (Clr 1, 3 hp) – Felled by a bandit’s spearthrust
[E] Quinton RumbleBreeches (Hal 1, 6 hp) – Felled by a bandit’s arrow
[B] Sazar Thistleborne (Thf 1, 4 hp) – Ripped apart by a Mountain Lion in the Perilous forest
[C] Brother Buddy Jr. (Clr 1, 4 hp) – Drained of life by monstrous Stirges
[F] Hardy the Dwarf (Dwr 1, 6 hp) – Clubbed to death by Ogre
[B] Zed Fauxgivvin (Hal 1, 4 hp) – Fell to a hobgoblin sword, but he did not go alone
[G] Colemeier Stonesaw (Dwr 1, 8 hp) – Fell to hobgoblin swords
[E] Father Kane (Clr 1, 6 hp) – Fell to Hobgoblin swords
[H] Ludwig Andros (MU 1, 4 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[I] Derek de Chitsville (Ftr 1, 8 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[J] Vinnie Jones (Ftr 1, 10 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[K] Johhny Longfingers (Thf 1, 4 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[L] Vitus the Southron (Ftr 1, 9 hp) – Eaten by Harpies
[I] Father Theodore (Clr 1, 6 hp) – Struck down by skeletons
[J] Box the Fighter (Ftr 1, 9 hp) – Struck down by Valgard, breaker-of-horses-and-men
[A] Diggory Class (MU 1, 4 hp) – Slain by Poisoned treasure
[M] Pajeje (Ftr 1, 9 hp) – Slain by poisoned treasure
[B] Chinning Poofter (Mu 2, hp 6) – Rent asunder by furious Griffon
[N] Grog (Ftr 1, 10 hp) – Drowned in armor in the bay of the Flooded Temple
[Retainer] Father Bell the Octogenarian (Clr 2, hp 12) – Devoured by the Basilisk
[M] Father Paisisco the Blessed (Clr 2, 6 hp) – Turned to stone by the Basilisk’s Gaze
[P] Roger (Dwr 1, 8 hp) – Rent asunder by the Chimera
[P] Bali (Dwr 1, 8 hp) – Incinerated by the Chimera
[R] Brandt (Dwr 1, 9 hp) – Ripped apart by Troll
[S] Lucifur the Cleric (Clr 1, hp 5) – Devoured by Werewolves
[Q] Cork the Cleric (Clr 2, hp 11) – Polymorphed and Stunned, then pushed to his death by a Beholder’s Rays
[M] Siriroco the Halfling – Slain by Giant Spider
[Q] Aruman the Wizard (Mu 2, hp 6) – Slain by Snorri the Stout, Reverse Betrayal
[S] Feud-baby (Thf 2, hp 6) – Punished for treachery by Dereck
[I] Pyotor (Thf 1, hp 4) – Fell by an evil Curse, slain by Dereck
[U] Dereck Huyderman (Clr 2, hp 10) – Slain by a poison trap


4 thoughts on “[Actual Play] B2 Beyond the Borderlands (LL) Pt. XXXI; Loose change

  1. “Loose change?” Sounds like a pretty good haul to me!

    Great use of phantasmal force…there are some few ways in which I still favor B/X over AD&D and this particular spell (it’s level, its delineated effects) are one of them. Much internet ink spilled in useless argument would be expunged if folks simply went with the description penned by Moldvay. The spell should never have provided PCs with a low-level Death spell.

    Don’t know if you can divulge, but would be interested in knowing what you’re using for the Caves of the Unknown (home-brew encounters? a Dyson Logos map? some other module?). Interesting choice to have the high priest already dead and gone when the PCs got there, but definitely not a BAD choice: sensible within the realm of possibility, provides a much needed impetus to move on, provides a reward for player thoroughness, and shows the campaign world to be a “living” one (things still happening even where the PCs aren’t). I dig it.

    These particular players are really starting to rock-n-roll. I am going to (again…sorry!) suggest that transitioning to AD&D might be a good idea. With the x.p. associated with found (and/or sold) magic items, new characters like Noldor and Nicodemus could be catching up quicker to the veteran PCs, making an even more formidable gathering allowing you to start seeding some tougher outings (say, Palace of Unquiet Repose?) sooner. Just a thought.

    On a related/unrelated note:

    The comments section for the post On High Level shows (I think) that folks are primed and/or interested in discussion for moving D&D out of the grubbier realm. It also shows (I think) that there’s a lot of ignorance, confusion, and consternation on the subject. The best way to understand it is (of course) to run it…to not be afraid of it, or of screwing up, or of making mistakes. Course correction is (I believe) ALWAYS possible with D&D…sometimes with a bit more work…so such fears are generally unfounded.

    As the PCs in your own campaign start to approach mid-level (3rd level spell use is generally where I start the mid-level “tier”) does the idea of them pushing higher excite you? Fill you with anxiety? Or are you nonplussed by their success at surviving?

    Just curious.
    ; )

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    1. Caves of the Unknown – I use the lowest cave in Little Keep on the Borderlands for Hackmaster 4e. I did make a minor error with some platinum treasure, which is worth x5 value in AD&D and x10 in B/X, but whatever, I checked the B/X treasure tables for Gargoyles and its not an IMPOSSIBLE result.

      AD&D, I know mon cherie I know. But…there are other venues that I still seek to try. I’ve played RC up to 5th level just never this precisely. I do intend to throw them at Palace and…well, after that, I guess I’ll have to start writing again.

      I am pretty excited about the higher levels truth be told. DnD shines when everyone has more shit to worry about, and the memorization of abilities and powers came easy to me, or it once did at any rate. We shall see. I have the most trepidation about learning how to hex map like a nonheathen and make a fully operational sandbox myself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Platinum is the same exchange rate in B/X as in AD&D (Moldvay, page B47): 5 gold to the plat. Pretty sure it’s the same in BECMI/RC, but I don’t want to dig out my books right now (I keep PDFs of B/X on Ye Old Laptop). Maybe it’s a Labyrinth Lord thing?

        I tell you what: *I’M* getting excited about the high level thing, too. Just the discussion is welcome…the fact that folks are starting to be willing to HAVE the discussion. For so long, the conversation seemed to end on a note like “yeah, I don’t run games past 8th level…” (or 5th level or whatever). Nice that people seem (more) open to entertaining the idea these days.

        Makes me want to shower my players with beaucoup x.p. just to level ’em up. But, no…that is *not* The Way.

        I’m going to write a post on the subject of play tiers in the Very Near Future…I think there is a general knowledge gap on the transitioning to high level play that, really, hasn’t been discussed. All well and good to say “yeah, we’ve got the low-mid level thing down, and I can KIND OF grok the high-level thing.” But how does one make the jump from one to the next?

        Because there IS a jump that needs to be made: both for the DM and the players. Perhaps that’s the particular fear/trepidation that folks have.

        Or maybe they don’t. But it’s something to write about.
        ; )

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      2. Its a lablord thing yeah. However, this is interesting because it means I have to keep in mind platinum treasure might be too heavily weighed in non-Lablord adventures.

        High level stuff is fascinating. Here’s to a fine new contest.

        Liked by 1 person

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