A play-by-post campaign with B/X rules, with characters rolled 3d6 in order ( *and the classic option of stats raised by 1 at the expense of another lowered by 2* ), with a simple premise:
The village of /“Backwater”/ is small and poor. Some farms, a temple, a smithy. The kingdom has recently fought in a war, and some young ones went there. They came back, still without experience, because the war was not bloody, but with some equipment and a hunger for adventure.
Then the earthquake opened a sinkhole in the wood. The village elders saw among the rubble and dirt a floor of flagstones some 60 feet down, some broken columns, and a wooden door in the western wall. Informing the kingdom? Better not. Life out here was peaceful and nice, and they did not want to draw attention from the capital. While the townsfolk knit a long rope ladder, the young adventurers were called upon to take a look in and find out if there might be something interesting to be found – not for the King… for the village.
Call to Action: “YOU are these adventurers. From the kingdom, you got a spear, a helm and a wooden shield, and you got 3d6x10 gold in pay for your services to the crown.”
Almost RAW. The difference to “classic” setups is this: The party retrieves treasure, but this treasure is not for them directly, it is for the village as a whole. In return, the whole village serves as supply base, and whatever the village can afford or manage in goods and services, the adventurers can have. So there is no haggling and buying; instead, there are personal connections to the men and women of the village, and the old village witch/wisewoman Cassandra.
The story so far
The exploration of the underground started on a bad footing: Their magic user Ysabet was blinded by evil magic, and then they met hostile cultists, found a hall full of dead bodies, and clashed with undead.
But they persisted.
Drawing on the support of villagers like Ebmulf the smith, Dago the cripple, Cassandra the old witch, and eager farmboys, they went exploring again and again. Room by room the young adventurers explored the strange underground caverns, where they found weird magic items, encountered snakes, spiders, mindless undead, and an evil cult. They managed to overcome the horrors, and in one fell swoop, took out the cultists by setting their hideout aflame. They also discovered the master of the undead, a renegade ex-cultist called Maleficus Nul, and by destroying his minions, bit by bit by bit, they finally drove him out: he took his last few skeletons and departed.
They also found a gigantic set of scales of blessing – immovable, but valuable to the village even so. And they found a room trapped with a magical undying flame, where the gifted Wally climbed along a rope to retrieve a big treasure from a locked and trapped stone chest… then they sealed the room to avoid anyone getting hurt by the still active flame trap.
Their success came with a harsh price: wounds, narrow brushes with death… and then their strongest fighter was slain by a horrible ghastly creature from a crypt. Their priestly acolyte, whom everyone thought would one day take over the local temple from the blind old cleric, was struck down by zombies. And the energetic young magic user Ysa was shot down by skeleton archers.
Taiwar’s cousin CHP, Ysa’s sister Yaelle and their parents, and Pat the farmboy joined the party to carry on and make the land safe for the beautiful village.
Drefdalf managed to forge a connection with a haunted furnace, and together the adventurers managed to free the spirit and let it go on to the afterlife in peace. They saved the life of an arrogant elf, and the life of a nice elf. They cleared out a nest of bandits in the wood and made friends with another adventuring party. They made friends with the local kobold population and started to sell kobold beer back at inns and taverns in the region, a deal that started on credit but soon brought in profits and forged a strong band between villagers and kobolds.
For a moment, it all seemed perfect. They had cleaned out a good section of the dark halls, sealed off the exit to the west, and Drefdalf the Halfling and Suki the Dwarf married in the conquered halls, once hostile, grim, and full of the dead. Now cleaned, decked out with wooden floorboards, decorated with flowers, and filled with music and joy. Kobolds were invited as guests, and Dwarves from Suki’s clan and halfling cousins of Drefdalf’s. And Pat the farmboy, now dubbed “Firescar” after an almost-death by fire, found love with Bethany, a neighbour’s daughter.
That was the moment the Hobgoblins showed up. The first contact was open and friendly, thanks to a 12 at a reaction roll. But it turned out that these Hobgoblins were part of a larger group planning to attack and subjugate other factions in this surprisingly big dungeon, and that they would get reinforcements.
The group decided to step in. They warned the targets of the intended attack and they blew up the Hobgoblin’s back exit with barrels of black powder obtained from the kobolds. At the same time, the lizardmen blew up the corridors leading to their section of the dungeon, leading to a disastrous failure of the hobgoblin attack.
During this mission, the group discovered two trading wizards from the capital and their entourage of eight fighting-men on minimum wage, who were captured and bound by the hobgoblins. Before blowing up the entrance, the party freed these men and brought them to the village, where the wizards explained that they were here to find and loot a fabled laboratory to sell its contents. But they abandoned this plan, given the sheer number of opposing forces who live here. However, one of them shared access to his spellbook with the party wizards. So the book-folk was out for two full weeks, copying and analyzing spells.
In the meantime, the others teamed up with the other adventuring party and together went to scout out possible escape routes of the hobgoblins. They found the “Descendents of the Builders”, a horde of primitive, half-crazed humans living under the rule of “the Pince”, whom the party befriended after freeing the rogue Jaques Nightingale, who was set to be eaten by the Descendents. The village and the Descendants went on to form an alliance of sorts, and the blocked stairway to level 2 was reopened. With new allies found, the group went to kill a giant mouse for the kobolds; while setting up a trap, they met an orc group and befriended them, thanks to another 12 at a reaction roll. These orcs – who also mentioned the laboratory deeper in the dungeon – hunted and killed the giant mouse for the group.
Turned out the mouse had offspring, so one more big mouse to kill. But before that, the party rented goblin slave Snotty as translator to work with the Descendents. Together with them they explored the hobgoblin area and in two final battles destroyed the hobgoblins. Two survivors fled into the darkness, one L4 hobgoblin was captured. In the battles, NPC cleric Alira and PC fighter CHP were killed. The Descendent “Erok the Mighty”, even though unable to understand common, joined the party. One captured hobgoblin lieutenant was Charmed by magic user Tarryn and put to work for the benefit of the Descendants in the lightless halls.
To root out the missing hobgoblins, the team went on to explore the rest of the level, finding several more rooms, and stairs up to the kobolds and down to level 3, where more primitive humans seem to dwell, and small creatures called “little men”.
The two surviving hobgoblins made a run for it, one was slain, the other reached level 3 … but after a while the party witnessed a bugbear removing the dead hobgoblin close to the lair of one “Mistress Lachesis”. They also met a spy in her employ and figured out that there is a teleport exit that leads to a place near the Inn.
From that place, they saw smoke rising from the village, and Tarryn and Erok the Mighty flew to investigate. The village had been attacked by bandits, and three houses put to fire, but they were repelled. Tarryn and Erok flew to see where the bandits ran, and Erok hid at a cave, while Tarryn reported back.
The bandits showed up in that cave, and Erok decided to attempt a lone surprise attack at the leader to demoralise the bandits.
However, he failed, got captured, tortured, and, even as his friends tried to save him, killed. The bandits fled from the invisible attacks of Frodde, most of them to a hiding spot at the “White River”, the effective border of the Kingdom. The bandit leader and three others to the dungeon entrance where they had cleared out some bandits once before.
Returning to the village with the fallen hero, the party learned that the Descendants expected them to take part in a feast where they would eat Erok, a gesture of respect and a way to absorb his strength for the clan.
Lucky or Unlucky, Quick or Dead
Those who live, those who died, and those who are happy.
|Characters||The Fallen||Away on Travel|
|Pat “Firescar”, Thief||Taiwar Ruen, Fighter||Suki the Dwarven Retainer, mo:12|
|Wally Glowvale, Thief||Furny the haunted furnace||Drefdalf the Giant, Halfling|
|Frodde Froddson, Thief||Leoneiros Stormwind, Cleric|
|Yaelle Littleoak, Magic-User||Ysabet Littleoak, Magic-User|
|Tarryn Tyne, Magic-User||CHP the Pinöp, Fighter|
|Jaques Nightingale, Thief||Erok the Mighty, Descendant Fighter|
|Yoric Littleoak, Thief Retainer, mo:9|
|Yvette Littleoak, Fighter Retainer, mo:9|
Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo on Unsplash