Tuesday, August 4, 2009

From The Jaws of Certain Death (Expert Adventures Part 3)

AKA "The End of the Adventure"

In case anyone's wondering, I personally prefer these extra long blog "stories" to be broken up into parts for easier consumption...that's the main reason I don't post this all as one looooong blarg entry.

(continued from here)

I neglected to mention that after the first couple of earth-bound battles, Roland started to memorize cure light wounds as one of his first level spells. His reason for this was practical...the dwarf warrior was taking damage in fights, and he wanted to be able to heal him (which he would do most every morning). Later on, Roland chucked light from his prayer list...they weren't traveling at night anyway...and started memorizing the spell twice. Things became much more dangerous as the party penetrated deeper into the island interior.

The Phanatons did not know of any giant pearls or lost cities, but they did know of the central plateau located within the mountains interior. They explained that if the party headed northwest they would find the great river, which they could follow all the way to the central plateau. This the group did, only encountering a few groups of (friendly) giant antelope as tey made their way through the mountains.

Once they found the river I could (mercifully) stop rolling to see if they got lost. The journey upriver was fairly uneventful, save for a small party of lizard men they encountered. The lizards approached with signs of peace, perhaps because of the enchanted snakes Roland had conjured as soon as they were spotted (the cleric appeared to be some sort of reptile friend/angelic being). However when Roland was unable to communicate with them, they grew angry and attacked (a 3 reaction roll!) and attempted to spear the blasphemer. However, Roland's party was able to slay all four lizard folk quickly (in one round!) with the help of the cleric's poisonous companions.

Soon enough, they found themselves at the foot of the 3000' high plateau. With no thief to scale its sheer surface and only a couple hundred feet of rope they were at a loss as to how to get to the top. Fortunately Marvello the Magnificent once again proved his worth! The magician had been memorizing fly twice per day since infravision had not been needed in the wilderness in daylight hours, and a quick perusal of the Expert rules showed it could be cast on others. He cast it on both Gorm and Roland, then cast levitate on himself and the party used the mage's magic to reach the top (Narcolim was carried, lashed to Marvello).

Once on the plateau, Roland and Co. made ready for the last push towards the center. A trembling of the earth did not deter them, an ominous warning of what was to come.

From a copse of trees the party was surprised yet again, this time by four ravenous dire wolves! The huge beasts came sprinting from their hiding place to pounce on individual party members, dragging down both Narcolim and Marvello! Poisonous snakes, axe and hammer, all served to slay and drive off the creatures, but not before they had managed to ravage the two magic-users mortally.

Now the raise dead spell in the Cook Expert set is available to clerics of 7th level, but the description makes the time frame for raising subject to the character being at least 8th level. As such, I ruled that a 7th level cleric could only raise a deceased character within one day of death (this was discussed by S. and me at the outset of the adventure when talking about the limitations of the spell). As such Roland was now faced with a choice of whom to raise from the dead...the flying guy that could talk to the phanaton, or the dark mage with the raspy voice that had the mucho useful lightning bolt spell.

S. elected to raise Marvello. As he said, "Narcolim sounded like he was already on his last legs" (I had role-played him with a raspy, sleazy voice...think a combination of Robotech's Khyron and Raistlin from Dragon Lance). He did search Narcolim for the advance money he'd paid him (not there), and took the mage's gear and spell book ("maybe Marvello can use the lightning bolt when he's healed up!").

They then made plans to return to one of the earlier, friendly villages they'd encountered. Roland was not against continuing the adventure with only one mage, but he needed that mage able to fight and cast spells...and walk! And the recently raised dead have a two week recovery period before they're fully functional. Roland was not about to wait on the mountain!

They set off back to the edge of the plateau. As they followed the river to the falls, they encountered two cave bears fishing. Roland cast speak with animals and approached the bears in a friendly fashion. Marvello was strapped to his back. The bears reaction roll was a 3! They attacked! "Run!" yelled Roland. The bears pursued! A swipe at his back re-killed Marvello! The second cave bear mauled the hell out of Gorm. The dwarf attempted to die fighting. He succeeded!

Roland ran to the edge of the cliff, caught his grappling iron on a thick clump of prehistoric shrubs, and threw himself over the side. A check showed the grapple held! The rope nearly jerked out of the cleric's hands but (check and) he held! He slammed against the rock face, but managed to find a crevice within which to wedge himself for the night.

The bears eventually left.

The next morning, Roland climbed the rope back to the plateau. He found Gorm's and Narcolim's bodies had been dragged off by the bears for consumption. He once again raised Marvello from the dead. "Why bother to bring me back if you're just going to kill me again?" croaked the mage.

Strapping the magician to his back (again), the cleric began circumnavigating the plateau, looking for another way down besides the sheer drop. He avoided the giant antelope he encountered. He evaded the pair of wild boar that were rooting through the scrub grasses on the plateau surface. He eventually found an ancient suspension bridge, several hundred feet long, leading to a nearby mountain pass. Fortunately he was able to cross without incident.

[adventure note: there is a 75% chance that flying pteradon's attack parties crossing the bridge...in the past I've seen half a party decimated by their swoop attacks. Roland was fortunate in the roll]

Somehow, he managed to find his way back to the Phanatos village without getting lost. Once Marvello was fully recovered the two, guided by their furry clan mates (they had been made honorary members of the tribe with a 12 reaction roll!), led them safely back to the walls of Tanaroa. There, they found Captain Garrick and his men had been living it up with the tribal villagers for the last several weeks. Boarding their ship, the Lucky Lady, they sailed back to Specularum arriving without incident about a week later (I did not bother with weather/lost/encounter rolls for the return voyage).


(epilogue to follow)


  1. This so awesome. I wanted to comment on specific points, but the list just grew too long. Your nephew (is that it?) rocks! My daughter is 5 and getting interested in playing so I read these things with great interest. A point should b emade loud and clear: this is the kind of experience you WILL NOT get with World of Warcraft or whatever.

    One specific point: what is it with the Cook Expert rules and Giant Water Termites? I played a B/X game recentl;y and we ran across these things every 5 feet (except for when we ran across dragons which are waaay too common in the random charts).

  2. I don't have the charts in front of me, but I believe it is a bell curve thing (you roll 2D8 and a 9 is water termites maybe? That would be a 7 in 64 chance or 11%)? I'm not sure...all I know is that these little parasites attacked 2-3 times. Usually, S. would direct the giant squids (who were much more friendly) back to the site of the last "termite barbecue."

  3. I had already planned on taking my new group to the Isle of Dread as soon as the Caves of Chaos toughen them up sufficiently, but this post made me more excited about it.