Monday, March 24, 2014

Dungeon of Tropes

On Saturday night, I had a chance to run a session of Moldvay Basic for my girlfriend. It was her first experience playing d&d, and since she was playing a single character, I was careful to stock the dungeon in such a way that survival was possible, although not guaranteed.

I opted not to use Solo Heroes because I think it changes the nature of the game in a way, that while pretty cool, is not the same experience as playing the game as written.


Fjörgyn (E:1) ventured out of Hedeby on her way to Gorgoroth* and the dungeon beneath Trelleborg. In the town of Skalafell, she caught wind of a story of a mysterious death, the victim found dragged to a set of steps leading down into the earth in a hillside nearby. Thinking there might be some treasure within, she opted to explore.

Before tacklin that task, she hired two locals, Grungo, the lovable lumberjack, and Zallifax  Zelligant the dutiful tailor.

Grungo bought the farm about 2/3s of the way down the stairs into the dungeon, when a shrieker started, well, shrieking which drew a giant crab spider to the scene. After failing to sink its mandibles into Fjörgyn's plate mail, it turned on the unarmored hirelings and Grungo's leg was severed, cutting an artery. His death was swift. 

The spider died moments later; Fjörgyn had her first kill - an adventurer was born. 

A magic mouth on a statue told her to leave but she paid it no mind and the dark warning etched on the wall behind it was treated as so much spooky bravado.

Still, as she explored, she carefully spiked doors open to make a fast escape possible.  And when she came across a magic pool, she wisely avoided drinking from its tantalizing Caribbean-blue water. Lady Luck was in her favor as she crossed a trapped threshold and neither she nor Zalligant Zelligant triggered the spiked/crushing ceiling trap .

A rickety bridge across a vast chasm caused some hesitation, but onward she pressed, and she found the bridge was, in fact, quite capable of sustaining her and her porter/torch bearer. At the end of the bridge were the ornately carved stone doors of a burial vault.

Heavy though they were, Fjörgyn was able to open them, and the pair slipped into the chamber of red painted walls. A mural of a bearded man summoning the elements adorned the wall behind a large marble sarcophagus, which was surrounded by glyphs and runes on the floor and covered with painted sigils. 

It seemed the inhabitant of said sarcophagus was in no mood to be disturbed, and while Fjörgyn explored the room, the ghoul set upon her.

As an elf, the ghoul's paralyais inducing attacks were of no concern for her, but Zalligant Zelligant pretty much peed his pants and tried to run. Unfortunately for him, the heavy door, which had closed behind them, slowed his egress.

By the time he got the door open, Fjörgyn had slaughtered the ghoul handily, suffering only a minor wound in the process. She severed the head with a mighty stroke of her sword, sending black dust spurting from it, a plume of powdered ancient blood.

The head was stuffed into her pack as proof of her accomplishment and several chests around the room were her reward.

In one of the chests, she found a still beating human heart. Unsure of its value or meaning, she tossed it into her backpack, along with the head, just in case it had any value. The others contained gems and jewlery - enough to live comfortably for a time, or perhaps, purchase a horse to ride to Gorgoroth if she chose.

On their way out of the tomb, they encountered a gnome, one Rupert Winklebottom heading down the steps, but Fjörgyn warned him it was dangerous. He thanked her and out he went and on his way. 


the map
It was a short adventure of tropes for a new player to explore.

Seeing her concern over things experienced players would breeze past, was refreshing. It was rewarding to see the genre classics have their intended effect rather than the jaded "seen it, killed it" they often have on people who have been playing the game for a long time. She had a good time and we plan to continue playing, so I would call that a success.

*Gorgoroth is the base town in the open-table campaign I'm running at my FLGS.


  1. OK. Everybody got that? It was Zallifax's "twin brother" Zalligant that pee'd himself, not Zallifax, the dutiful tailor.

    So, she just left Grungo's body there? Fjörgyn is hard core. None of this human weakness--empathy.

    1. One of my first regrets was leaving Grungo's body behind and without proper burial. I have learned my lesson!

    2. @Stu Rat The best part of the name confusion in the post is that the dutiful tailor was neither named Zallifax nor Zalligant, but Zelligant. That's what happens when I write without any notes handy.

      @Ariale Looting dead comrades and abandoning their bodies is a long standing tradition. So, look on the bright side, you didn't steal his tunic or his shoes.

    3. Wow. I don't think Fjörgyn should trust this guy. Two fake names and he's a "tailor"? Obviously, a member of some sort of criminal organization. Fjörgyn should be careful or she might find herself sleeping with the lutefisks...

  2. Sounds like a successful game for you and your girlfriend, and a successful outing for Fjörgyn (less so for Grungo).

    1. Poor Grungo indeed - not even into the dungeon proper before he met his end. Perhaps saddest of all is that only 1 other point of damage was dealt the rest of the session! Fjörgyn has AC 3 (descending), and the ghoul only managed to get one claw attack through.