I am glad none of the characters died, especially since one of my players brought a girl who has NEVER played an RPG before. She got right into it though, was talking to NPCs and strategizing with the other players, she even said "forsooth" a few times (this is more participation than I expect). I am the most proud of the fact that I didn't ruin a first-time gamer's day, and maybe she will come back to play again. That's a big win in my book.
So I started things off on the Isle of Wight, with a lone survivor of the last party that ran through the ruins on the island (a much older version of the dungeon!) stumbling back into town, mostly dead, with a half-drawn map, a key and an odd statue of what looked like a skeleton anti-pope. This got the PCs together and hustling into the dungeon, and the game was afoot!
|Who would make a statue of this guy?|
The intrepid group of 4 PCs (two goblins, a dwarf and a sea-blood accompanied by 2 hirelings and 2 mangy dogs, with maybe 20 hit points between all eight of them) fought a moss hog (oh you fucking bet!!!!), then ran into a squad of terrified bloblins (same link). They rolled nice on the reaction roll - you can bet nobody had ever done THAT before - and the bloblins told them about "Jack," who had been asking about the strange statue, and the "big whippers" who oppressed them. The PCs wanted to help the bloblins, and promised to fight the whippers if they would then lead the way to Jack. So venturing further into the dungeon without too much incident (the random encounter tables were very mild that day - another happy accident for the new player is that there wasn't much combat, and diplomacy carried the day), the PCs did battle with some giant goat-men with whips!
After the battle with the goat-whippers, the bloblins failed their morale check and said they would take the PCs to Jack right now, or that was it. Leading them through the dungeon, they also came across a wall with a damaged mosaic of a battlefield, depicting some kind of figure in the foreground - the only thing left was a set of horse legs though. Maybe that will come back later!
The bloblins gave them directions to Jack, and told them "don't go through that other door," before running off to hide somewhere in the dungeon again. Jack of course turned out to be a small, walking scarecrow with a pumpkin head. He couldn't talk, but when the PCs gave him back the statue he was relieved of a curse and really dished the dirt. The players asked him about the dungeon, how long he's been around, if he knew where any treasure might be, a ton of other questions. He told them he was from "down the stairs," and wanted to go back there. Since they freed him, he gave them vague directions to some sort of useful magic nearby, and offered to lead them to the stairs he spoke of.
Jack led the party through some strange rooms, including one with a glowing spectral eye that scrutinized the players, and another crammed with shelves of earthenware jars - nobody opened one, but Jack said they contained human brains. Through another room with strange insectile statues, Jack led them into THE STAIRS: a gigantic, glowing red shaft that extended up and down as far as they could see, like a giant underground missile silo of stone. A narrow walkway headed across to the other side, and a similarly narrow stairwell circled around the wall of the shaft, heading down and up.
Jack had a few parting words for the PCs when they asked him where he's from: "it's always the same season at home... you know the one, with all the orange leaves." He told them the queen's name is Gloriana, but he "doesn't really follow politics." With a nod and a wink he jumped off the ledge and plunged down the stairway shaft into the distant red glow.
Bemused at this departure, the adventurers crept across the walkway to the other side of the stairway shaft and followed a tunnel to a heavy stone door with a symbol of the sun, and a strange keyhole.
Then I had to go to band practise, so the PCs retired to the outdoors again (no random encounters at ALL in this latter half of the adventure) to camp out on the hills and await the next delve!
All told this was a success and better than I hoped for a first run-through with this group. The players saw some cool stuff. Nobody died. There was some combat and some diplomacy in equal measure. The newbie had a good time, there isn't much else to ask for. I threw out some cool elements in this session I've been thinking about for a while, so hopefully I can blog about them in more detail soon!
!!! ACHTUNG !!!
NO PLAYERS CLICK ON THIS!
Actually, the whole top level of this dungeon is this find-and-replace dungeon that I got from D&DwPS.