Sunday, August 13, 2017

Exploring the Temple of Elemental Evil's Dungeon Level 2 (pt. 3)

This is another play report for my ongoing Roll20-based B/X D&D campaign, and spoilers for dungeon module T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil follow. Anyone who plans to adventure in this setting should stop reading!

As stated last time, the characters returned to Hommlet in order to rest up, heal, and regain spells while staying at the Inn of the Welcome Wench. Unfortunately, the Magic-User's rest was interrupted when his pet owl started hooting to alert him to an approaching danger. He awoke to find a figure clad entirely in black climbing in through the window just above his bed. Upon being discovered, the figure quickly retreated into the night:

An intruder in the night...

The characters decided to spend the entire next day in Hommlet, in order to sort through various loot taken from the Temple. It was mostly routine, except when the Magic-User decided to use a Knock spell to unlock a small chest taken from Feldrin's quarters in the Temple's Dungeon Level 2. The chest was protected with a poisonous gas trap, which triggered when the Knock spell popped open the lid. Three of the characters in the area of effect failed their saving throws and the others had to burn through carefully-saved magic items to keep them from dying outright:

Poison gas! Only the party Cleric and their hired animal handler happened to be outside the area of effect

Back inside the inn, the Elf (who is a cleric of Pholtus) resumed his preaching to the tavern patrons. However, he seems to have suddenly developed a persistent, nagging cough:

Meanwhile, the Magic-User, fearing another late-night visit from the mysterious black-clad intruder, hired Elmo to sit up in his room all during the coming night:

The Magic-User hires Elmo to keep watch in his room during the coming night

However, the other characters took no such precautions... they somehow concluded that the Magic-User was the only one in danger and that they themselves had nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, the next morning the Cleric of St. Cuthbert did not come down to breakfast. Asking Ostler to come upstairs and unlock his room, they found the Cleric still in bed, but dead with a black dagger plunged into his heart.

The Cleric of St. Cuthbert is assassinated in his sleep

Clearly, the characters are facing a serious threat, and in the middle of what they considered to be a safe haven. What will they do next?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Exploring the Temple of Elemental Evil's Dungeon Level 2 (pt. 2)

This is another play report for my ongoing Roll20-based B/X D&D campaign, and spoilers for dungeon module T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil follow. Anyone who plans to adventure in this setting should stop reading!

The characters returned to the Temple the following morning after my last posting, and once again descended down to Dungeon Level 2. This time they went south from the spiral staircase and immediately encountered a room housing a Minotaur:

The PCs battle a Minotaur
The Dwarf took 1 solid hit, but the creature really had no chance against so many opponents. One change to note in the party makeup on this trip, the Cleric decided to bring along the group's guard dog. On all previous adventures this dog had been left topside, to help the hireling animal handlers guard the horses while the party was exploring. But this time, the Cleric decided to bring the dog along, down into the dungeon.

After defeating the Minotaur, the characters backtracked past the area where they had defeated Feldrin and the Temple raiders on the day before, and continued in an easterly direction. They soon found a storeroom filled with lumber and other building supplies.

The characters find a room filled with construction materials

Next, the characters came across a damp, slimy room which contained a giant water cistern. This room filled the players with a sense of impending danger, and their characters soon backed out of the place without exploring any further:

The characters find a huge water cistern

Continuing eastward, the corridor the characters were following turned south and then came to a T-intersection. The characters decided to explore east again:

Which way to go?

They soon came to a garbage-filled room, obviously a dumping grounds for the Temple's current inhabitants. At this point the Cleric's player ruled on his own that the dog would not be able to resist such tempting odors, and had him run into the room. Unfortunately, an Otyugh hidden among the garbage sprang at the opportunity to acquire a meal of fresh meat. The dog stood no chance against such a surprise attack and was soon being devoured by the monster.

An Otyugh hidden in the garbage room attacks and eats the party's guard dog

The Elf character recommended running away, while the monster was busy eating the dog. But the Fighter and Dwarf players decided to charge in, hoping against hope that they might still rescue their pet.
The Elf suggests fleeing, but the Fighter and the Dwarf charge in

Unfortunately, it's all over too quickly and the dog is gone...

Considering that this dog was purchased when the characters were new and had been with them since the beginning, they were surprisingly cavalier about its fate

Well, no time to "mourn" the fate of the dog. Now the characters themselves are in range of the monster's attacks and the battle is on. The Fighter and the Cleric are both wounded by the creature, but in the end they manage to defeat it.

The characters battle the Otyugh, exacting revenge for it eating their dog

After defeating the Otyugh, the characters returned to the main corridor and followed it around to the NE quadrant of dungeon level 2, where they found a closed door:

A new door to check out

Opening the door, the characters were confronted by a large group of Bugbears. Being low on healing spells, they decided to slam the door shut again and try to spike it. However, the characters were quickly interrupted by another group of Bugbears approaching from the west:

Bugbears attack!

A few Bugbears were killed, but by this point the characters just wanted out. So, in quick succession, the Magic-User cast a Wizard Lock spell on the door, and then a Web spell at the Bugbears remaining in the corridor:

The door is Wizard Locked
The remaining Bugbears are Webbed

With their foes temporarily neutralized, the characters used the opportunity to flee back to the surface and then return to the Village of Hommlet.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Exploring the Temple of Elemental Evil's Dungeon Level 2 (pt. 1)

As always, spoilers follow. Anyone who plans to play through The Temple of Elemental Evil module should not be reading through these blog posts!

The party has been exploring the ToEE's Dungeon Level 2 for about a month (real time) now. They first decided to enter Dungeon Level 2 via the spiral staircase found in the NW corner of the map:

The characters cautiously enter the Temple's dungeon level 2

The characters quickly found a complex of rooms in which were stationed many men, all garbed in black. They began fighting and pushing their way forward.

The Fighter leads the charge, followed closely by the Dwarf

As the party pushed deeper into the complex of rooms, more human guards confronted them

After these guards were defeated, one who had surrendered was offered freedom in exchange for relating all he knew. He told the characters that they were off-duty raiders, charged with keeping the Temple supplied with goods and captives. He also told the characters that their leader, a man named Feldrin, was quartered in a complex of rooms behind a secret door to the south. The guard could provide no additional details, stating that he and his comrades were not permitted into this area.

A captured guard tells the characters all he knows in exchange for his life

The players decided to press the attack, hoping that whomever was beyond the secret door might be caught off-guard. Unfortunately, those people had already been alerted to the PCs presence (the guard's sergeant had escaped) and so they were expecting an attack. All the same, the Fighter charged in and engaged in melee.

Again, the Fighter charges into the fray, immediately followed by the Dwarf

Unfortunately, the Fighter paid for his boldness by receiving a Critical Hit from one of the guards and the result nearly killed him in one shot:

The Fighter is nearly killed by one lucky blow

The Cleric, who happened to be next to the Fighter, casts a Cure Light Wounds spell on him. The Fighter also deployed his snowman Christmas gift, to take any further damage meant for him. See my last post for details on how this unique magic item was acquired.

The Fighter manages to avoid almost certain death

Although the Fighter is out of immediate danger, Feldrin (seen in the SW corner of the group pictured above) lands a solid blow on the Dwarf. Now he is in danger of dying. The Magic-User then decided to cast the spell Web at Feldrin in order to stop his assault. Unfortunately, it also meant webbing the Dwarf as well:

Feldrin is captured

Feldrin (and 2 of his surviving guards) are interrogated  by the characters. Feldrin offered to show the PCs a way to reach the 3rd dungeon level in exchange for his life. However, the Elf executed him on the spot instead. The Elf was then about to turn on the other two guards who had surrendered, but the rest of the PCs stopped him.

The Elf ends Feldrin's depredations once and for all

The characters decided to return to Hommlet, in order to rest and recover from their exertions. While the rest of the characters relaxed over dinner, the Elf (who is a priest of Pholtus) began haranguing the locals over their sinful ways and offered to show them the one true path to light and redemption. They responded by pelting him with animal bones and empty ale bottles:

The Hommlet locals do not take kindly to being called sinners and heathens by the priest of Pholtus

Next time will chronicle the character's return to the ToEE Dungeon Level 2!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Exploring the Temple of Elemental Evil's Dungeon Level 1

I haven't posted any updates for my Roll20-based Temple of Elemental Evil campaign for quite some time. I'm just not a very good blogger, I guess... As usual, my excuse is that I am so busy prepping for and running games that I have no time left over to post about them. Lame excuse, I know.

However, the players have not been idle and a lot has happened since I last posted. Below are screenshots of the greatest highlights of their adventures on Dungeon Level 1.

Obviously, spoilers follow... If you ever plan to adventure in the Temple of Elemental Evil, then do the right thing and leave now! On the other hand, if you're already familiar with the module then you'll probably recognize most of the places and encounters depicted below.

While in Nulb the players met Otis, who eventually revealed to them his true identity and purpose for being there.

The PCs enter the Temple of Elemental Evil for the first time

After briefly exploring the Temple's ground level, the PCs found stairs leading down and took them

The PCs soon found the room containing the Harpies and the Ghouls, in the SE area of Level 1. The Harpies failed to charm anyone, but the Ghouls proved to be a bit more challenging. Here, the Dwarf has been paralyzed by them, while the Magic-User has cast a web spell.

The PCs explored the north end of the Harpy chamber and encountered more Ghouls. The Fighter took a Critical Hit and got one of the worst results possible on my house rule chart. He failed his saving throw, by the way.

The Ghasts behind the secret door to the west of the Harpy room make their appearance. Both the Thief and the Cleric were paralyzed and carried off, but the Fighter and the Magic-User saved the day and retrieved them.

Here, the PCs have encountered the Earth Temple forces that are quartered in the NE part of Dungeon Level 1, and their leader has just thrown his Javelin of Lighting. The Cleric made his saving throw vs Lightning, but the Dwarf did not. So, I required that every item he was carrying make a saving throw as well. He lost a lot of equipment that day...

The PCs discover the Ghoul-infested rooms in the SW area of Dungeon Level 1. There was a lot of fighting and it was very chaotic. The end result was that both the Fighter and the Dwarf were paralyzed by the Ghouls and then carried off by them into the darkness. Here, you can see the Fighter being taken away (the Dwarf is already gone). The Elf tries to save the Fighter but cannot do it. Meanwhile, the Magic-User defends the paralyzed Thief from another Ghoul's attacks.

Here, the PCs have hired some extra help to make up for the loss of the Fighter and the Dwarf, while they attempt to discover their fate. They soon found the Earth Temple guard quarters in the NW section of Dungeon Level 1. Things quickly got out of hand and here the Magic-User is down. The Thief had fallen into the pit trap and almost drowned, but he was rescued by a hired NPC. The NPC paid for his heroics with his life, his body is hidden under the pile of dead Earth Temple guards next to the pit. The PCs put up a brave fight but eventually had to retreat from the Temple again, and their two hirelings were both dead.

After their disastrous attempt to find their friends as shown above, the PCs went back to Nulb and convinced Otis to help them try again. Otis agreed to go with them for this one time only, but said he could never do so again or else risk blowing his cover. He insisted that they meet at the Temple after dark, when he could slip away from Nulb unseen, and that they must be out so he could return to Nulb before dawn.

Meanwhile, as the DM, I had decided that the Earth Temple Priest was planning to sacrifice the captured Fighter and Dwarf (along with one of the Orc prisoners and the NPC gnome Wonillon). His goal was to summon another Earth Elemental, to make up for his loses caused by the PC's previous forays. To accomplish that, the Priest gathered all his remaining forces to defend the Earth Temple while he performed the ceremony at exactly midnight. It was at this point that the PCs and Otis arrived.

Here, the battle to stop the Earth Temple Priest's ceremony is already well underway. The party Thief has rushed to the central pyramid to try and free his friends, who are chained to the central column. Wonillon is already dead, sacrificed by the Earth Priest. The priest has now fled to the far side of the pyramid to avoid missile fire from the PCs, while his minions attack the intruders. You might wonder where did the Snowman come from? It's a magic item I awarded last December, when I ran a Christmas-themed side adventure for my players. The snowman has been deployed here by the Cleric, and it absorbs any damage meant for him until it runs out of hit points, and then it disappears forever.

Here, the Earth Elementals have returned to the pyramid, to prevent the escape of sacrifices meant for them. The Thief was hit by an Elemental at the central pyramid and sent flying half-way across the Temple, and was also killed by the blow. However, the Cleric and Halfling are now there too, to try and help free their friends. Meanwhile, the Earth Temple Priest has used his magic items to flee the area and leave his minions to their fate.

Although not depicted here, the Halfling was also killed by the Elementals and his body sent flying across the room from the force of the blow. However, the Cleric managed to rescue the prisoners by smashing the locks on their chains with his mace. At last, he too had to make a run for it. He had no choice but to run between 2 Earth Elementals in order to make his escape. But doing so would provoke free attacks from both. Everyone assumed this was a suicide run, since the Elementals needed only something like an "8" or better to hit the Cleric, and a single blow from either would probably kill him. However, as can be seen in the screen shot above, I rolled only a "5" for both attacks. And with that, against all odds, the Cleric got away from the Earth Elementals and re-joined the rest of the party in the hall outside the Earth Temple.

A little more mopping up was done, but this battle essentially concluded the clearing out of Dungeon Level 1 of the Temple of Elemental Evil. The end result was two hired NPCs killed, and 2 PCs killed. One PC was resurrected after taking his body to Verbobonc and giving the Church of St. Cuthbert there a very generous donation. However, the owning player of the other dead PC decided to let him go and so he was buried in the St. Cuthbert churchyard in Hommlet. Also, the party's Fighter remains horribly scarred (see above) and the Earth Temple's head priest escaped altogether, taking with him the choicest bits of his personal wealth.

Next stop: Dungeon Level 2!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

BX House Rules Version 5.1

After more than a year, I'm releasing version 5.1 of my B/X D&D house rules. As before, these modifications were implemented after actual game play experience from my ongoing B/X Roll20 campaigns. Here is a summary of the latest updates:

  • All character classes can now fight from horseback
  • Unarmed combat is now mostly BtB
  • Rules for the whip and dual-wield combat are removed
  • Shield Wall rules removed, rules for Push-Back are modified to compensate
  • Thief weapon Blackjack is removed
  • Spell description for Continual Light is modified
  • Missile fire at adjacent foes is addressed
  • Rules for Parrying are loosened a little
  • Rules for Turning Undead are elaborated upon
  • Monsters with Gaze attacks are addressed
  • Fighter perks tweaked slightly

Download your copy of Brett's B/X D&D House Rules ver. 5.1!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

To Nulb and the Temple of Elemental Evil

I apologize for the lengthy delay since my last post, I took an unexpected month-long hiatus earlier this Fall from running any of my Roll20 games. Then it took a few game sessions to accumulate enough new material to post about. Anyway, on with the story:

The documents which the players captured from Lareth's chambers made several references to the village of Nulb, so the PCs decided to travel there and see what they could learn. It was only a few miles away Hommlet and an easy half-day ride. The PCs arrived in Nulb by noon and immediately came across the local inn, The Waterside Hostel. The PCs stopped in and ordered some lunch, but quickly decided to move on and explore the rest of the village. However, the seedy nature of the place was more temptation than the party Halfling could resist. He decided to stay, buying rounds of drinks for everyone and leading the crowd in his favorite form of entertainment, singing sea shanties:

The party Halfling ingratiates himself with the Nulb locals, buying drinks and dancing and singing on the table top

Meanwhile, the rest of the characters explored other points of interest in Nulb;

The characters meet Otis, Nulb's village blacksmith
The first stop was the local blacksmith. The PCs were somewhat surprised at his helpfulness, given the unsavory nature of the inn's patrons. They departed after agreeing to stable their horses with him for the night.

Next stop was Mother Screng's Herb Shop. The party Mage was intrigued by the place, but Mother Screng's sharp tongue turned them off to wanting to conduct any real business with her.

The party Mage tries to chat up Mother Screng, without much success

Next, the characters visited The Boatman's Tavern and Nulb Market:

The characters (minus the Halfling) have a drink at The Boatman's Tavern
It didn't take long for the PCs to realize that they were surrounded by river pirates and that the market's inventory almost certainly consisted of stolen goods. With Hommlet close by, they decided not to purchase anything from this particular shop. They quickly finished their drinks and departed, although they were eager to tell the party Halfling that they had found a new drinking establishment in which he would certainly feel right at home.

Later that evening (after reserving rooms for the night) the PCs met with Otis the Blacksmith at The Waterside Hostel. The meeting was to negotiate for the long-term stabling of their horses while they expected to be exploring the nearby Temple. However, Otis took the opportunity to quietly reveal his true identity and his purposes for being in the village. He also warned the players that the Cleric's plate armor (formerly worn by Lareth) would have by now been recognized by the village's inhabitants. Lareth was a frequent visitor in Nulb and certainly by now Temple agents within Nulb would have realized that something had happened at the Moathouse. Otis told the players that they were probably safe for the night, because it would take time to get word to the Temple and receive instructions back. But he told them that beyond that, they could be in grave danger if they remained in Nulb.

The characters meet with Otis the Blacksmith

The players decided to set out for the Temple first thing the next morning, hoping to preempt any move against them. They also decided to not leave their horses with Otis in Nulb after all, believing that something might happen while they were away exploring the Temple. Therefore, they left Nulb by way of the main road (and not the trail leading directly to the Temple), established a base camp in the forest a couple of miles out of town, and then proceeded on foot to the Temple. Their horses were left in the care of an NPC animal handler they'd hired several weeks ago and had brought with them to Hommlet.

SPOILER ALERT! If you ever expect to adventure through The Temple of Elemental Evil as a player in the future, you should do the honorable thing and stop reading now. Otherwise, you will be doing your DM and your fellow players a disservice by acquiring "meta-game" knowledge of the adventure in advance. On the other hand, if you are a DM or are otherwise already familiar with this adventure, feel free to dig out your copy of The Temple of Elemental Evil and follow along!

Having already been warned by Otis, the players did not try to approach the main entrance to the Temple, with its wards and protective runes. Instead, they entered by one of the side doors:

The PCs enter the Temple of Elemental Evil for the first time

After entering the Temple, the PCs lighted torches and began following the western wall, exploring the perimeter. They soon encountered the western Transept, but did now follow its wall. Instead, they cut across due north and then encountered a vestry:

The PCs find the vestry located on the western side of the Temple.

The characters noted the feces-stained white robes piled in the middle of the floor. The party Halfling was all for donning these robes, hoping to "blend in" with any encountered Temple inhabitants. However, the rest of the players refused and so the Halfling reluctantly gave up on the idea.

The players decided they should go back and explore the western Transept, and soon discovered a broken and shattered altar:

The Thief searches the broken altar while the Halfling explores a nearby door
The party Thief decided to search the altar for any hidden compartments. Meanwhile, the Halfling, feeling bored, decided to explore whatever might be behind a nearby door.

The Thief found nothing of interest around the altar, but the Halfling soon discovered a flight of stairs leading downward in the Transept's side-room. The characters decided to leave off exploring the Temple's upper works and instead head underground.

The characters descend to the Temple's 1st dungeon level
The characters reached the Temple's 1st dungeon level and proceeded to explore several corridor twists and turns. However, these explorations turned up nothing of interest. Eventually they came across a well-maintained door and decided to investigate. Unbeknownst to them, they have stumbled onto the outer guard room of the primary living area for the Earth Temple's forces. They managed to take out the guards posted in this room, but not before the guards inflicted some damage of their own and also managed to alert their comrades in the room beyond:

The PCs have encountered Earth Temple guards, without really realizing what they've stumbled upon

The conclusion of this battle is where we ended for our last game session. Those of you who own a copy of this module and who care to follow along should have little trouble in figuring out where the players are currently located. And therefore you will also know what challenges lie ahead. Be sure to check back soon for an update to the current situation!