Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Skalafell : Into the Evil Wizard's Safe

This session of Fjörgyn's adventure was held outdoors at Griffis Sculpture Park in Western New York. It was also the first time I have ever played D&D outdoors.

photo by Ariale M.

Fjörgyn followed the map Sister Rebecca / Evil Wizard gave her to the mouth of a cave in the hills south and west of Skalafell.  The tunnel within forked, and she chose to pursue the one to the north.

[I gave her some info to help her decision making, but I'll be damned if i can remember what it was.]

As she approached a cavern, her torched flickered [which ultimately was a terrible clue that something was amiss]. Remembering her infravision, she opted to extinguish the torch and peer into the cavern in hopes of not drawing attention to herself. 

Before her stood a large cold glob in the center of the room. Lighting her torch she saw a grotesque tentacled monstrosity of a statue. Expecting the worst, she tried to sneak past, but it was not to be - the living crystal statue animated and smashed at her with its massive tentacles.

Fjörgyn blocked and parried blow after blow before finally shattering the statue into hundreds of shards (some of which were stashed in her pack for later use). She had taken some damage, but not much [we're using Solo Heroes, so damage at most is 2 points per hit, and quite often just 1 pt]. 

She decided to return to the other fork and explore that direction, but found her path mysteriously blocked by a wall. A search for secret doors revealed nothing, despite her elven prowess in such matters, so onward she went.

After trying to climb her way around the walls of a room and falling onto a great glowing sigil painted on its floor (which cost her a point of INT), she made her way into a chamber wherein a large leather bound book, sealed with a clasp,  rested on a small plain stone dais. 

Taking no chances with her safety, but risking the book, she knocked it from its resting place. As the book skidded into the rough ground, this transgression triggered the rapid appearance of 3 skeleton warriors bent on making her life pretty miserable in a battle that did not go her way (she came close enough to death that Ariale was getting worried).

Finally, in an act of desperation, bloodied and bruised, Fjörgyn grabbed the spellbook and, like a young Walter Payton, blasted through their line and out the door into the hall opposite the way she came in. Fortune was on  Fjörgyn's side and the skeletons did not pursue - although fortune has a sick sense of humor and put her at the precipice of a great chasm some 20' wide. 

Despair may have settled in for a moment before the light bulb went off and Fjörgyn noticed hand holds and a small ledge allowing her to cross the chasm ever so carefully. 

Ahead, she heard the distinct sound of loud voices and with torch extinguished she spied several humanoid shapes sitting about another cavern. 

With surprise on her side, she prepared her Charm Person spell. It was not until she uttered the necessary phrases that the goblins became aware of her presence and by then it was too late - all but one of them failed their save. The sole exception charged into melee (Fjörgyn won the initiative) but was cut down quickly and easily. As for the others, they could not understand why their brutish companion would attack their dear friend, the elf.

So happy were they to see their long lost bestie, they readily gave up information about the tunnel system. Realizing her health had been seriously compromised by the statue and the skeletons, Fjörgyn asked for directions to the entrance. As it turned out, the goblins had their own secret way in and out of the cave and happily showed Fjörgyn the way to the surface. 

Sadly, obligations to their Boss prevented them from going with her back to town to continue their joyous gathering.


  1. Great write-up. Also, playing outdoors is awesome. I had a friend who once tried to convince us to play a game with all of us sitting in the branches of a very large tree, but we couldn't figure out how to do roll dice perched in such a manner.

    1. As Ariale noted below, she had trouble keeping the dice on the rather generous surface of the picnic table, a tree would never work!

      I was worried someone was going to come by and demand to see our nerd credentials. D&D outdoors? It's supposed to be kept hidden in basements, played on tables littered with mt. dew and pizza boxes!

  2. Any dungeon crawl that your character walks away from can't be ALL bad . . . but what is in the book? That might well be VERY BAD, eh?

    -- Jeff

    1. I've become attached to Fjörgyn since she is my first character and all. I developed a tiny stress headache fighting the skeletons! It's all so exciting still.

    2. That book is so bad it warps magic. Charm Person usually only targets one "person", although B/X doesn't seem to explicitly say that. Or maybe Ariale has become evil outside the game...

    3. Well, listen to me, "become"? Hah!!

    4. You know, John scoffed at my level of evil outside of the game. "I'm evil! I swear! So EVIL!"

    5. Hey Stu Rat,

      I admit I wrestle with the Charm Person result from time to time and this result for Fjörgyn just reflects my current thinking (i really should put my brain to better use):

      Charm Monster is stated to work exactly like Charm Person, except on non-humanoids, and it allows more than one to be affected. So, my, quite possibly flimsy, reasoning, is that either one or the other must be the intended result of both (that is, one victim or many). I also note Hold Person (which admittedly is a different end result entirely) affects more than one creature, potentially. So, my most recent thoughts on the subject have been to allow Charm Person to be cast at a group.

      Conversely, Charm Monster makes no mention of a saving throw, either for the initial casting or the frequency of saving throws to determine if the charm continues, never mind the varying of the frequency by intelligence. Yet it claims to be identical to Charm Person, so, I give monsters a saving throw.

      This sounds very rules lawer-y in retrospect, but since I'm the DM and I tend to play fast and loose at the table, I'm not too worried.


  3. Also, I hope that the worst things ever are inside of that book... to make it worth the trouble and all. •evil grins•

  4. C.D. - I have trouble keeping my dice on a large picnic table. :/

  5. Another great adventure! I like the lone adventurer thing you have going here. A nice change of pace from a party of several. It's a different kind of game in a way, isn't it?

    1. Hi Fitz-Badger,
      It's definitely a different game.Although Moldvay encourages giving players a 2nd pc, or more, to run, if there aren't enough players to make a decent party, I believe, for a new player this is too much, especially if they are new to RPGs generally, not just the specific system being played.

      I find hirelings problematic in that, again, as Moldvay notes, there's a tendency for them to become a crutch for very new players, who are afraid to take risks with their characters. So, I tend to play hirelings for low level PCs as quite resistant to take those risks, unless the PC is willing to do it themselves, too.

      Ariale definitely showed an early attachment to Fjörgyn, so, despite my reservations about multiple PCs for new players, I had her roll up Charlie Bucky to provide the party with more muscle (and a character to fall back on if Fjörgyn bought the farm) .

      We soon found learning the rules, learning to role play and playing Fjörgyn was more than enough on Ariale's plate, as Charlie Bucky was often only half-remembered. CB had become something of weird amalgamation of PC/NPC and so, after looking into it, we agreed to switch to using Black Streams : Solo Heroes (which is a free pdf from DriveThruRPG, and runs on top of whatever old school game you're using). Charlie Bucky departed and now Ariale can run a single character but survive against encounters that would challenge a party of 3 or 4 PCs.

      It does make it more Conan/Red Sonja like - but for a single PC, I find this effect enjoyable (a party of such heroes would drive me nuts, I think). If I wasn't knee deep in season 2 of the Ever Expanding Dungeon, I think I'd run a solo game using Black Streams and exploring the life of a single character in more depth.


  6. Thank you Fitz-Badger!
    I love playing this way, although I have never played in a party before. Fjörgyn is my very first character. Playing in a party excites me and also gives me a twinge of anxiety because I still feel so new at it all.
    Playing alone has opened my eyes to a whole world of solo-gaming. I've been dabbling with Tunnels and Trolls solo adventures.
    I'm sure that John has more to say about how different it is to run a game for one person vs. a group of people.