Sessions report from the open table B/X-BECMI-OD&D-mix game played on a gaming weekend at a 900 year old castle with minimal internet access and spotty telephone reception.
Day 2/3, session 1/2
This time, the two thieves and the cleric of Anubis were not there, because they were playing Talisman, and the young sniper was not there because he played catch. But the group gained two fresh clerics, one, Cordelia Chase, was Lawful (who had rolled a ton of money and stacked up on a dozen oil flasks), the other of chaos (with only 3 hit points thanks to low CON) and Bobo the Magic User, a Halfling, and another fighter — new friends from different tents in Faxo’s camp. The group inspected the un-opened pyramid and tried to make sense of the reliefs and runes there, and figured that the key to opening it might have something to do with sacrifices. After all, there was a huge altar with a wicked spike, and the carvings of goblins sacrificing other goblins with the use of weird stone daggers.
They asked around among NPCs if any of them had tried such, and learned that earlier adventurers had experimented liberally with goblin blood and dead goblins, but to no avail. The group noticed though that nobody had, as yet, actually sacrificed a living goblin on the altar, and decided that was worth a try.
(Especially the chaotic clerics showed few ethic concerns)
Alas — no goblin! So they decided to go to the black pyramid first to see what went down there. Again, Mira first, the clerics behind her, everyone else in the middle, nobody wanted to go last, but in the end the cleric Cordelia Chase agreed to that job. On the way, they noticed a trip wire and escaped the connected arrow trap, but were random encounter ambushed by 1d10 (six) goblins.
Most of them tried to hide or climb trees, but Mira the fighter understood that the only way to win this was by attacking, so she yelled something to that effect and rushed, drawing several others with her. Murtagh the Magic User spotted three goblins and cast sleep on them. One goblin got fried by Bobo’s magic missile, one got tied up by the cleric whip and stabbed by the Halfling. Mira was lucky to survive: She got hit by an arrow and missed her opponent twice, tripped and fell close to him, but he missed just as often until a cleric brained him with his hammer.
They figured they needed only one goblin for the sacrifice, and one in reserve. Sadly, one goblin head had been melted by the magic missile. So they collected goblin arrows and bows, and found goblin stone daggers. They brought back three goblin heads for three gold, and tried to get a healing potion for Mira. However, the prices for healing potions were horribly high, and they sought for clerics to do the healing. Alas, they too demanded gold for their services.
Finally they sought out Gelbo the Halfling and struck a deal with him for mutual assistance, and got Mira healed up. Again, the clerics cursed the cruel fates that denied them the power to heal at level one! But it only served to fire up their motivation to collect XP.
Now they climbed the pyramid and started to torture one of the goblins to find out the magic secrets of the pyramid. However, they fast learned that two random goblins from the wood were not necessarily privy to all the ancient secrets of goblinkind. At least they learned of some goblin caves in the wild forest, and hatched the plan of raiding them and abducting goblin shamans from “the deep caves” to torture them. But not today!
In the end, schooled by the relief images on the pillars, the new chaotic cleric offered prayers to his dark gods and sacrificed goblin 1 on the stone altar. Murtagh the magic user collected some of the goblin blood for later use, just in case. And they were successful: The Altar shifted slightly, and they were able to open it up and reveal stairs down into the pyramid proper.
Sensing the presence of traps, they felt the lack of thieves keenly.
They tied the surviving goblin to a rope and let him go first. It took some climbing etc, and they started mapping. Soon, the goblin dropped into a pit trap, but thanks to their leash they were able to save him. But when he ran into a swinging blade trap and got cut in half, the party felt the sting of a lack of goblins: “At this rate, we need one goblin every 200 feet!” they complained, unimpressed by the vibrant little life full of hopes and dreams that they had just squandered. The thieves were sorely missed!
The group was quite impressed of the damage the trap had done, so they quickly upped their game and went exploring quite carefully and skilfully.
They killed a spider, tricked some of Faxo’s people who had followed them into running into a sleeping gas trap for them, met a gaggle of kobolds and chose to flee from them and bar the door, met some giant toads and decided to flee again, because what treasure can a toad have? Using a whole door as a shield against a fire trap they won into a room with shriekers and burned them to a crisp with the oil of Cordial Chase. Even more oil killed two spiders in a broom closet … but Cordelia gained a broom from there and used it as a 10 (actually, five) -foot-pole from then on, and named it “Staff of Healing”.
Then they found a room guarded by nine goblins with their own secret entrance. They used more fire to smoke them out, and the door as cover, and were lucky with some rolls, especially with the whip, which turned out pretty useful, and a bola.
Alas, the sacrificing cleric with his 3 HP, who had always played it safe and hid behind others a lot … his luck ran out in that fight. The one time he dared exposing himself, he stepped right into three arrows and got himself killed. The clerics, once more lamenting about their lack of magical healing powers, even managed to stabilize him with first aid, but he failed his death save and slipped away.
Still: They found a might magic sword of trollslaying and a ton of gold and gems, so they returned triumphant, hailed as the great people who had finally managed to open that stinking pyramid for everyone, and Mira as the bearer of the magic sword of trollslaying.
Divided among their number, the impressive amount of thousands of XP still only amounted to some 800 per person, so they did not level, but still, the session ended with happy players celebrating their awesome success.
Day 2/3, session 2/2
On that evening, the players gathered for more. The cleric of Anubis was back, as well as the two thieves, all three cursing the fates that they had not been there when the XP had gotten collected. Two of them asked to get a share of XP for having been in the very first session, but were denied. XP only for those who share in the collecting.
The fallen cleric was out, as well as the Halfling, but a new, young player joined with a custom player class: An Albanian. He argued that Albanians were extra cool, so they should get a +1 on all rolls on d20s, if they did the sign of the Albanian double eagle. I figured it would not hurt so I agreed, but denied him any plusses on other rolls and on AC (he had DEX +2 anyway); we decided to call him a fighter with thief saves and DEX prime requ, and some thief skills, but d6 hit points, with fighter level progression. His name was “Joebama the Albanian”. We also gained a Dwarf, Ognus the Stout. (with a dwarf axe). The cleric of Baal bought a warhammer in place of the whip, and a sling.
Mira the fighter, as bearer of the Sword Trollslayer, got a job offer from Faxo the Great; to work for him, do special missions, etc.
The crew gave him a careful, diplomatic No. Once more they asked for more gold for goblin heads, but got a no from him.
This big crew of 10 was getting tough to manage, so we had to stress Mira’s leadership role more. The crew decided, after some more stealing from the camp, and after buying some expensive healing potions, to go after the Murder Goat. (I felt that they overestimated themselves there, but I had warned them enough, I felt. They just ignored all the dire tales of survivors who said it was gigantic, big as three bulls, with mighty horns, eating flesh, shaggy hair, red glowing eyes etc.)
The group travelled west to the Pits of Nightmares, with one random encounter: A bear. Most of the group welcomed the opportunity to fight, but Mira the Fighter forbade it. She stepped up, asserted dominance of the space and entered a contest of CHA with the bear, whose reaction roll had come up neutral. She won, and the bear moaned and groaned and trooped off.
Next they met two sad adventurers on their way back. Some of the group wanted to rob them (“we are way more!”) but again Mira the Fighter held them back, and she and Bobo the Wizard talked with them, listened to their sorry tale of misfortune in the Pits of Nightmares, made friends, gave the two hungry dudes a ration each, and exchanged some tips.
Snakes on a Rock
Informed by the tips they passed the Snake Rocks safely. Most of them! Adrian wanted to hunt rabbits, so he split off, then reconsidered and ran after the others. The Albanian picked his own path, but encountered four angry snakes. (In the meantime, we had acquired some spectators, and one of them played the snakes)
The snakes got surprise, but failed to penetrate the boots of fine Albanian leather. He attacked, but missed very narrowly, despite his +1. They bit him once, but he made his Poison save. The graveness of the situation dawned on him, and he ran away. Two snakes got the opportunity for a last attempt to bite him, but they both failed. The Albanian lived to fight another battle. He obediently followed the path of Mira and Bobo.
Murtagh, meanwhile had a random encounter: 1d6 (6) harmless wood animals. I decided on 6 rabbits, a family. Murtagh stalked closer, the rabbits rolled a very favourable reaction, and he managed to capture the big fat daddy rabbit.
Adrian ran back towards the rabbits and on a chance of 25% (17) still found them, hopping around confused because daddy was gone. He shot the mother dead and took her with him for rations.
The group reached the Pits of Nightmares and after conferring, Mira, Bobo, and Ognus decided to skirt them and go straight into the wild hills for the murder goat.
Random encounter: Another six goblins with bows! Both sides were surprised. Then Bobo put them to sleep with an exact roll of their collective HD. Bloodthirsty, the thief Dietrich wanted to murder them, but Mira remembered the acute lack of goblins back in the pyramid and again forbade it. He begged to at least murder one of them, to show the other five that we meant business, but she said “later!”
The group used the six goblins, tied up, as a mobile alarm system during their night camp (no encounters). Then they interrogated them, especially since they had found a scroll on them, which Murtagh read with Read Magic and identified as Invisibility scroll!
(Once more, the united clerics lamented that the arcane casters had a spell and they did not. By this time the lament of the clerics was already an honored and valued group tradition.)
They asked uncomfortable questions of the Goblins (Murtagh knew the language — and only Murtagh), and they learned that the Goblins had been sent by Boss Moop to bring that scroll up to Eagle Top Hill to give it to the Shaman there. Otherwise the goblins knew very little, they were, to the players disappointment, not high ranking goblin-illuminati with deep lore at their fingertips. But they knew things about the Murder Goat! The group learned that the Murder Goat was supposed to bring fertility and life to the land. This creature appeared after the winter and made the land bloom. In exchange, it got sacrifices. The group pressure-ganged the goblins into the role of sacrifices.
They herded the goblins forward and Murtagh killed the rabbit and marked their way with fresh blood.
Splitting the Party
After a while going uphill, Adrian Blackwater split from the group and went back toward the Pits. He followed the blood trail Murtagh left, and promptly met the Murder Goat as it followed that very trail in the other direction. He attempted to hide by masking his own scent with blood from his own rabbit. Alas, the strong blood smell alerted the Murder Goat. He ran, it pursued, he managed to dodge two attacks, but the third got him and he got eaten.
The group noticed the commotion downhill and saw the Goat coming, so they formed up a battle line: The six goblins, tied up, in front, fighters at the flanks, missiles in the back… it looked quite professional. Then the Goat got there and ripped the first goblin apart, so everyone left their positions to attack, except for Dietrich the Thief, who stuck to the plan.
The Goat was rather strong and did d12 damage, but the players rolled well, while the monster, steered by Adrian’s player, gutted four goblins and the Albanian, and trampled the cleric of Anubis (who miraculously survived, Anubis be praised), while the Dwarf tried to hamstring it. As Mira slashed some goat neck, she and Murtagh got showered with acid blood, and Murtagh fell to zero HP and lost consciousness. The order-cleric chucked flaming oil flasks at the beast and the cleric of Baal pelted it with sling stones, while Dietrich stoically shot arrow after arrow at it.
Finally the beast succumbed to slingshots to the privates, slashes to the abdomen, and the relentless firebombing, and it died. Half the team raced to save Murtagh with a healing potion, the other half raced to save the goat head from the fire.
Triumphant again, they returned to the pyramid without incident and collected their reward.
They also met a new friend, a mysterious wandering warrior, who claimed to be a reborn Albanian and wanted the XP and money of the Albanian. However, the XP were a hard no from the DM, and the group refused to share money with random strangers — still, they welcomed him to come on the next expedition, which he promised to do.