Wednesday, June 29, 2022

"We're Rich! We're Rich!"

"We're rich! We're rich! We're really really rich!"

This was the song being chanted (loudly) for about ten minutes yestereve as my players danced around the table, celebrating a particularly large haul of treasure.

Welcome to my campaign.

I have an hour(ish) before I need to start "working," so allow me to tell you a bit about it. The players (a party of four: elven assassin, half-elven fighter, human cleric, human ranger) are currently exploring my re-vamped (no pun intended) version of Ravenloft. No railroad here: the group may have been shipwrecked on the sandbar just off the coast of Port Angeles (that was fun!) but nothing compelled them to stay in town, nor explore/invade the castle of the local Countess (yes, I've a gender-bended "Strahd"). If they'd wanted to, they could have simply purchased fresh horses and been on their way...perhaps to Sequim and from there onto Kingston (a week's journey by leisurely ride). Heck, they might even make a side trek to "the Dreaming City" (Port Townsend); the elven citadel is only some 30 miles round trip off the main road.

But they decided to stay. The town was sad and grimy, somewhat less than effusive in its welcome (though their ship's crew seemed able to get on fine at the aptly named Wreck Tavern), and rather filthy with orcish persons...a small group of whom were drinking at the tavern when the party entered (the orcs paid their bill and left shortly thereafter, not wanting any trouble with armed elvish types). The drinking started in the early afternoon and went long into the evening...though most of the locals muttered their goodbyes and left before sundown. 

Most, but not all. One young man, incredibly drunk, visibly agitated, and belligerently armed became more boisterous...and the evening progressed. Seems he was unhappy with the local lord and bore a grudge against her for the murder of his family and the (recent) disappearance of his sister: an adventurer who had sought redress for various wrongs and never returned from the castle. Wild stories were spun by the man ("Istmark")...stories of devil-worship and blood-drinking and curses. The Countess was a demon, or a sorceress, or both, and took her due in both lives and souls and was a plague on the town.

To the adventurers, it sounded like normal orc-hate (the countess had apparently forced tolerance of the pagan tribe, who made ready and loyal servants) and bourgeois whinging. However, when Ismark offered to hire their elven blades for the "typical service" (elves having a reputation for assassination) and at twice the usual rate(!), the party quickly reached an accord.

The party set off for the castle in the morning, reaching it just after 8am.

[ugh...sorry, got distracted. Yesterday, my laptop crashed and...apparently...took a huge chunk of my Word documents with it...everything I've been working on the last 30 days or so. Yesterday, I spent a couple hours trying to find a document that failed to be "auto-recovered" (not sure why), but today I noticed even more missing files, including my open Word document on Ravenloft! What the F is going on?!!]

Skip ahead, skip ahead (only have five minutes or so)...the party has now been exploring the castle for nearly seven hours (it is 2:50pm in the afternoon).  For rather obvious reasons, an adventure like this requires meticulous calculation of encumbrance, movement, and game time (in ten minute turns)...sunset in Port Angeles is 9:17pm, and until that time, the castle is far less dangerous.

And it's been dangerous enough. Orcs wearing scale and armed with halberds are nothing to sneer at, but so far...whether by luck or cunning...the party has been able to avoid any encounter or trap that might have otherwise finished them. They've also managed to do a fair amount of murder...slaying both the castle exchequer (accountant) and a peasant girl named Gertrude found sleeping in the master's bedroom (they assumed she was the countess). 

Having killed many orcs (and not a few zombies), the bloodied robbers rather easily discovered a secret door within the fireplace of the study. Putting out the hearth blaze with water from a nearby bath, the adventurers used magic to reveal the obvious gas trap (avoided by holding their breath) and then their elvish guile to find the secret passage to cobwebbed belfry beyond.

Again, the ranger failed to prove much use outside a fight on open ground, as three man-sized spiders surprised the party, one bearing the human to the ground. Fortunately, he was able to survive multiple poison saves and the elvish butchers made short work of the huge arachnids. 

They then discovered the REAL treasure room of the castle (behind another secret door).

While I have restocked much of the module to bring it up to snuff for a standard AD&D adventure (in terms of both monsters and treasure), I haven't spent much time modifying the treasures that were already placed by the authors. Okay, I did get rid of TWO of the three +3 maces in the castle treasury (in favor of a crystal ball with clairaudience for the Countess to use in keeping tabs on her realm) but the general loot is all pretty much the same. Needless to say, 10s of thousands of gold and silver coins means a BIG payday for the PCs...and was the direct cause for their celebration.

The party spent the better part of an hour emptying their bag of holding and re-filling it with the most precious parts of the treasure. In addition to valuable, leather-bound books, silver cutlery, and elegant silken dresses already looted from prior chambers, the players managed to gather the bulk of the gold, silver, and platinum well as all the expected magic items, a coffer of gemstones, and a suit of human-sized plate mail removed from a stairway alcove. Their bag and backpacks are stuffed full, as is the half-elf's large sack...a total haul they estimate to be worth somewhere north of 23K in gold. In "real world" terms, that's close to half a million dollars worth of swag...more than the party has ever gathered at one time.

Thus the cause for the dancing and singing.

Abandoning non-essential equipment, the players are now making ready to vacate the castle entirely. They've decided that, at this point, it's probably a better (and safer) option to quietly leave the town than overstay their welcome. They are still considering whether or not to even attempt collecting Istmark's promised fee...they have their doubts that the girl they slew was indeed the countess (she certainly didn't seem like some sort of demon sorceress...also, she bore no resemblance to the raven-haired portrait of the (presumed) noblewoman discovered earlier). Regardless, now that their band is suddenly wealthy, they are disinclined to explore further, simply for the chance to perform regicide.

They're pulling up stakes...while there's still daylight left. About six-and-a-half hours worth.
; )


  1. Nothing more old school than a "kill em all and let the gods sort em out" mentality.


    1. Indeed.

      However, there WILL be consequences to their actions. It just remains to be seen how dire those consequences will be!

    2. The importnat thing is to make sure you convert the GP to XP and level up before the consequences catch up with you.

  2. It sounds as though they all had a good time. Consequences, consequences though. Bodding off is the right thing to do. I'd find somewhere at a safe distance to lay up low for a bit.

    1. Where can you run from a vampire sorceress?