Christmas seemed to have taken longer this year with us all having a busy time, consequently stretching out the space between sessions. We were over half way through N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God and were determined to fish the whole adventure. To bring us back into the swing of things I recapped the world, referring to the Parsantium map and refreshed everyone’s memory with brief descriptions of the prevalent cultures and major tensions that they would be aware of. With that out of the way we went to the specifics of the scenario.
At the end of the last session the party had cleared out the temple and returned to town. Rather than pick up directly from there I simply told the story of what happened over the next few weeks. They regrouped, recovered and learnt what they could. They met and exchanged info with the hermit magician, and as the mood of the still-charmed population started to turn ugly again, they headed off.
The path to the supposed centre of all the trouble lay to the West along the northern banks of the Istra. On their four day trek they found sign of a large hobgoblin raiding party, but luckily avoided contacting them. The land gave way to a diseased forest, that in turn dissolved into swamp land. Following the path through the swamp they were assaulted by the usual range of annoyances such as mosquitoes and leaches, and suffered from the damp atmosphere. Finally they reached a low circular embankment that kept the waters a little back, and in the centre lay a hole in the ground… and then the adventure started.
Why would you build a dungeon in a swamp?
Questions like this came up many times, and we talked about the old-school dungeon design that didn’t really think about ecology or basic engineering.
In any case, as they stood discussing what to do about the swamp dungeon: break the dike and flood it, or get smouldering logs and smoke it out, a snapping turtle lurched out of the swamp behind them and attacked. Storm deftly froze it with a ray of frost and this galvanised the elfish boys to enter the dungeon without further delay.
The first level of the N1 module dungeon is sparsely populated and serves more as a way of introducing the environmental problems. These include constant cloying wetness, mud that sticks to boots that slows down movement and reduces stealth bonuses, and the effects the wetness has such as swelling doors and squeaking hinges.
Very soon they found, successfully silently approached, and cold bloodedly murdered several guard/cult members. With the way open they then systematically explored the ground floor, squelching through mud. Several large and suspicious rooms were identified and then left for later more detailed investigation and it was not until it appeared that floor had been totally mapped they came across some higher level and more dedicated opposition. These three assassins were obviously the lieutenants in charge of the guards. Their quarters were more luxurious, but only marginally.
Arrius the Monk kicked in their door, knocking one of the assassins back off balance. Casius the thief cleanly and spectacularly nailed the second assassin in the throat with his hand crossbow, Storm the Sorcerer fried the third with an electrical bolt, and Octavius the Paladin calmly beheaded the fourth. The combat was quick and brutal: effective and cinematic… which was lucky for the elfish boys because these particular four, had they taken initiative, might have exacted a fearful toll.
In that small group of rooms that could be barred and defended and they searched everything, finding an above average sword and shield. The final action of the night before we packed up involved opening a chest that was guarded by a glyph of warding. Reluctantly, Arrius admitted he did not think of such a thing when he flipped open the lid. A paralysing blast threw him back, and the rest of the party barred the doors and decided to take a rest while they waited for him to recover.
So ends the next part of N1.
In general book-keeping we decided to do away with tallying XP in any form, simply agreeing that after a completed ‘adventure’ they would all go up a level. This is a recognition that modules are usually designed to do exactly this, with the XP awards adding up to the right amount.