Monday, March 8, 2021

Playing the Tomb of Bendan Fazier (P.1)

Thursday afternoon, the foray into the Tomb of Bendan Fazier began in earnest. For the most part, it went extremely well for the party…so much so that when I asked the boy (over lunch Friday) what he thought of the dungeon he said, “You didn’t make it hard enough.” 

I laughed out loud for several minutes. Then I laughed out loud some more.  

Why are you laughing, Pops? “That’s the kind of thing players say right before everyone gets killed.” HAHAHAHAHA. 

Fridays are generally a no-go for D&D because (like most of our week) we have sports practice after school. Recently, though, practices have been at an ungodly hour (7pm – 8pm? Who does that? When are these kids supposed to eat dinner?!) so we had a couple hours to kill after school work and chores were wrapped up. 

A couple hours to kill…HAHAHAHAHA. 

I offer the following write-up of our game sessions as an example for any DM interested in running the adventure. I'd say it worked fairly well (i.e. as intended when I wrote it) being both fun and functional.

Dramatis Personae 
  • Barod (played by Diego, age 10); a 1st level cleric. 
  • Sonia (played by Sofia, two months shy of age 7); a 1st level magic-user. 
  • Tully (NPC); a 2nd level dwarf thief; has the map to the tomb and recruited this expedition. 
  • “Tiny” (NPC); a 1st level fighter with 18/07 strength; ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray. Dubbed “Tiny” because he’s smaller than Jumbo. Grunts more than he talks. 
  • “Jumbo” (NPC); a 1st level fighter with 18/77 strength; AKA “Big Jim.” 6’5”, 250# (300# with scale armor and shield). Smarter than he looks. 
  • Four mules, unnamed. 

Session 1  (Thursday)

The background goes like this: Tully had already investigated the tomb with his prior adventuring party. They did not have a cleric and the skeleton hoard encountered in room #1 proved too much for them; after taking multiple casualties (including their party’s magic-user) they retreated. Tully decided to recruit some holiness for a return delve. The PCs (Barod and Sonia) were only too eager to sign up for an equal split of the treasure. 

Because my daughter was late to the party, Diego/Barod entered the tomb first (with the three NPCs) leaving their pack mules outside. Having been briefed on what to expect the party was not surprised by the dozen skeletons that attacked as they entered the entry chamber. Barod attempted to turn the undead and rolled a “1;” combat was joined! The group had spread out upon entry and now each adventurer was dealing with three skeletons. 

After a round of futility and wounds, Tully turned and fled up the stairs roaring for the others to retreat. “You coward!” yelled Barod swearing to deal with the craven after the combat. However, Tully actually had a ‘Plan B:’ flasks of oil in the saddle bags of his mule. Sonia came up (leading her mule) just as Tully had recovered his makeshift bomb and was heading back to the tomb door. “Follow me!” She did, staff in hand. 

Meanwhile, the skeletons had turned at the stairs and were seeking new prey. Jumbo, Tiny, and Barod had all managed to down a couple skeletons, but now faced fresh foes. A natural 20 roll from Tully incinerated one of the skeletons and lit up a second with “splash damage” (yay, AD&D). The tide turned! Sonia bludgeoned another one to powder, and the party stood triumphantly amid a heap of bones. Cure light wounds spells were bestowed all around, but the party was still pretty beat up…they decided to camp (outside the tomb, with the door spiked) and recover their strength. They realized they couldn’t spend too much time doing so, however, as they’d brought only a week's worth of rations and round trip journey from the nearest town was four days of travel time. What’s more, Barod had neglected to purchase feed for his mule and was forced to share rations with the beast given the poor vegetation of the dry hills. 

Before leaving the chamber, Barod and Jumbo had explored chamber #2 and found both the scattered coins and muddy footprints. With some trepidation, they reported their findings, but Tully poo-pooed it: “the coins were probably left by the workers that constructed the tomb.” Barod wasn’t so sure. 

The next day (after another round of healing), the group decided to explore the broken southern wall of the entry chamber. Tully noted the downward slope and explained it was probably a secondary exit/entry tunnel used only for emergency and left unfinished…when they encountered the river at the end of the tunnel, this seemed to confirm why it had been considered “unsatisfactory” and walled off. Extremely happy to have found a source of fresh water, the party slaked their thirst and refilled their water skins. 

[a couple quick notes here: I had everyone do a "weight check" for encumbrance prior to the beginning of this exploration, and much wrangling was had over what to carry and what to leave with the mules. In the end, Barod ended up divesting himself of most of his equipment in order to carry his entire cache of armaments and not be slowed too much. Tully and Sonia ended up carrying the torches, but everyone had a backpack with some large sacks...they expected to haul a LOT of treasure out of the tomb!

[the other note is this: regarding the scrag (river troll)...well, I diced for it every time they encountered the river or entered an encounter area on the river (like chamber #9). The thing never showed up. Every time I rolled the percentile dice, though, the players got nervous, asking "What are you rolling for?" in tremulous voices]

They followed the riverside path until they saw the bridge overhead (#6); tying a rope to Tully they sent him up the rusty ladder only to have it disintegrate. Figuring that the other corridor from the entry chamber would lead to the bridge, they decided to retrace their steps, rather than press on (they thus, never discovered the scrag's den).

At #3 three character applied their might to the bronze wheel and heard stone moving in the distance. They thought maybe the stone doors at #4 had been activated by the thing, but Jumbo was able to budge them open with effort. They lit the torches in chamber #4 and studied the painting. Continuing on, they examined the rods in #5 but decided to leave them behind. At the bridge ("See we knew this was the way!") they reasoned that the rods from #5 could be fitted into the raised brackets of the thing to add stability, and correctly did so. They then proceeded to "the Sun room" (#8, the antechamber). 

Rather than look for a key, the party decided Tully could pick the lock. Although this activated the fire trap that burned him for ten points of damage, he survived and managed to open the door, whereupon the party was greeted by the magnificent sight of the great Hall (#10). When it was discovered that the jewels could be pried from the floor, several of the party members immediately set to work doing so before being halted by Sonia, convinced that this might activate some sort of trap or curse. She even suggested they find a way to glue the gem stones back, but after much grumbling allowed the men to keep the 3 or 4 stones each had already recovered.

Using Tully's spikes and Sonia's rope, four of the party descended into the preparation room (#11), leaving only the dwarf behind to guard the exit (he spent his time prying up gemstones). Finding the "moon door" the party called back to Tully if he'd found any keys, and told him to run back through the dungeon and see if they'd missed anything in the entry chamber. "What? Are you kidding?!" The players' reasoning was that the bronze wheel had triggered something, and perhaps it had opened a secret compartment or alcove in the entry hall (#1) since that was the only room they hadn't visited/returned to since they'd turned it. Not being able to fault their logic and being badgered incessantly (and not wanting to risk another fire trap), the dwarf reluctantly took torch and started back...only to return a few minutes later.

No way, no how.
"Hey, you jokers...there's still that big stairway [leading down to #9] that we haven't explored...and I ain't going down into the unknown by myself!"

Having (wisely) put his foot down on the issue, the party agreed to climb out of the lower chamber and assemble in the grand hall, leaving the mysterious metal "moon door" to wait below.

[to be continued]


  1. Just curious, where did those cure light wounds abound come from? Barod is a 1st level cleric, so one spell right?

    1. Since we're playing 1st edition, he receives bonus spells for his Wisdom score. Barod rolled a 16 wisdom (knocked down to 15 due to his young age), which is worth two bonus 1st level spells.

      However, for all my wanting to play "Rules As Written" I am allowing the cleric to pray for spells as needed (as opposed to "memorizing" them in the morning like a magic-user). So long as he's doing his morning devotions...and so long as his deity (the DM) feels he's asking for appropriate intercessions, I'm allowing him to petition for whatever miracle he needs at the moment.

      [since I was a kid, that's how I've always run clerical spells]

  2. Dang scrag letting you down. I'd have a word with the lazy bum. Nothing worse than a randomly-appearing monster who milks their coffee breaks.

    1. Well, unlike a guardian skeleton or statue, he’s not the type of creature that sits in a room waiting to die. I suppose I could just have a chart to show “where’s he at today,” but probably he’s on the prowl hunting for food (you’d think such a creature would need a large hunting ground), and I don’t want to track his movements separately from the party...yet I also don’t want him to just “pop up” because I (the DM) think that would be super-cool.

      Mostly it’s just an interesting note...I didn’t really have any attachment to the scrag butchering the party.
      ; )