Monday, June 30, 2014

Watched Band of Brothers Last Week

So this happened (arrived today):

I'm looking at picking up the second set in July.

Once I finish painting the four US infantry I have primed, these will jump to the front of the queue.

On Thieves : Some Thoughts on Tenkar's Post

Over at Tenkar's Tavern, Eric brought up the perennial debate about whether or not a thief is necessary in an adventuring party.

He makes the point that at low levels, they suck at thieving. In fact, if I recall, someone out there showed how in Moldvay, thieves have a worse chance than any other character at making one of the checks. Never mind that the Thief is not one of the original classes.

Tenkar brought up the the Thief because in one of his parties, they have no thief, and it didn't cause any issue. 

Similarly, in my Trelleborg campaign, the thief has had some success, but not enough to make him a key to the party's survival. 

One of his abilities is completely hamstrung as I don't allow thieves to pick pockets of party members - the game is open table and I seem to always have at least one new person joining. I am of the opinion that those kind of shenanigans lead to bad blood, especially between strangers. Since they don't really adventure in town - the dungeon is the reason for the campaign in the first place - the thief hasn't tried to pick the pockets of NPCs (i guess the black metal goblin ashigaru demand killing first, stealing items second).

Although he takes scouting missions, it's primarily because he is wearing leather, and the halfling, who could scout as well with their ability to stay still and go unnoticed, plus infravision, is wearing noisy plate mail (she is the party's muscle, despite having a human fighter in the group every other session) and not because he necessarily will go unnoticed. 

Although he has had some success on his Thief Skills rolls, a number of those have come when making use of the D30 Rule which greatly limits his risk of failure. 

As a general rule, the party smashes doors open, and ditto for wooden chests/boxes/crates. With a magic-user with the right spell list, they could use some more finesse but even then, they could just bring the locked item back to town, try to find the thieve's guild and pay them to open it.

Clearly, the Thief isn't necessary from a game play point of view.

But they do have some advantages. 

Chief among them is that some players just want to play that kind of character that they believe would have the Thief skills, or maybe they really like the idea of establishing a thieve's guild as their end-game. It might also be an optimal choice for a player who wants their character to survive.

What? How so?

Reasons the Thief Might Outlast Your Fighter

Everyone knows the thief sucks at low levels, so they are often relegated to the middle or rear of the party at worst. 

Most everyone expects them to fail their check for traps (is there any among us who does not recall the fate of Black Dougal?), never mind disabling one they do find, and so parties often don't bother to even have the thief check.

Because, at least in my experience, parties tend to smash containers open when possible, traps in locks are less of an issue as a result.

Where the thief does excel is their improved hear noise, as it's on par with the Elf ability at 1st level, and improves quickly. In Trelleborg, after the thief has performed that check, the fighters/halfling/dwarves force open the door while he is in relative safety behind them.

In combat, because thieves typically have good Dex and thus missile bonuses, they don't have to close ground anytime soon with opponents. If they WANT to close ground they'll probably try to hide in shadows, move silently and then back-stab, doing their best to avoid head to head confrontation.

Finally, the Thief class offers rapid advancement. 

The thief in the Trelleborg game is already 4th level, while the next closest PC has just crossed into 3rd. His skills are starting to surpass what just anyone would be able to do, and he can take more than a single hit now which makes him a touch more durable should he fall from a sheer surface (one of the skills at which Thieves excel from the get-go).

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Trelleborg: Session 6 : The DM Side of the Screen

Last Wednesday, I ran the 6th delve into the dungeon beneath Trelleborg. I hadn't really expected more than a couple of players for a mid-week game, but found myself with six of them at my table - four returning and two new.

Because it was a weeknight game, I decided that I would basically hand-wave the trip to the trap door in the tower, with some bits here and there for atmosphere. That came back to bite me in the butt.

It seems I forgot the rule that says anything the DM says, no matter how trivial it might seem to them, will be seized upon by at least one player, thereby turning an insignificant description into the main focus.

The atmosphere I added was that it felt like someone had been there (the ruined tower). It seemed innocuous to me, but of course, I have nothing to lose either way.

The players, on the other hand, felt something terrible might be up.

Rather than going into the tower, they decided they needed to go and check out the camp site from Session 5. After that turned up no merchants (although it did turn up some unusual finds- like large damp spot caused by a large amount of blood, a trail with wagon wheel ruts (which they didn't follow) - it was clear to them that an ambush had been laid inside the tower (despite no evidence for that). Even when they found footprints going in, they found some coming out, so an ambush wasn't a forgone conclusion. Yet, when they saw the trap door down was wide open, that was it - one player suggested they sweep the entire 1st level. 

Ordinarily, I'd be happy to let them do this - it's a good approach for a dungeon crawl, but we had limited time and i had two new people who wanted to roll some dice and kill something. Never mind that the first level is entirely clear of monsters and only a wandering monster roll would have any chance of bringing anything. 

Fortunately, during my session prep i made notes that the doors of the rooms in the hall approaching the stairs down had been burned down. Since doors in the opposite direction weren't, and once they were satisfied the black metal goblins hadn't come up the elevator (the trap the party's thieves had set was still there), they put their tank back in the closet and proceeded down to the 2nd level.

Still, it wasn't until they started debating a course of action in a crypt that a wandering monster roll brought them into contact with some ghouls and the new people started to maybe get a sense of investment in the game. Especially when a TPK was nearly the result (a handful of the party were paralyzed). 

I think this was my biggest failure this session - assuming I could get them into the action without any delay with just a little hand waving and descriptive atmosphere. As a result, I'm sure at least one of the two new people was bored for a good bit. I'm not sure how to resolve this - I want them to understand that the 1st level may at some point repopulate, but it hasn't yet and at the same time, I like the caution they're showing - death has been established as a real possibility, and most of the world has been shown to be evil. They care about their characters surviving (or at least seem to) and they pretty much trust no one they encounter beyond the town.

On the up side, once again, I was happy with how I had included clues to the presence and/or effect of traps - the players were quite creative in defeating them, and i think that was some of the most fun this session from my point of view. Most of them could have resulted in a number of fatalities, and they lost no one (to traps) because they made good use of the clues and the environment to defeat the traps.

The treasure haul was nice (they defeated a mummy who had a nice haul, but here was treasure in some of the burial spaces too), and everyone went up a level at the end, which brings up my second issue: The treasure, which was so scarce in sessions 1 and 2, is starting to feel Monty Haul-ish to me. 

I need to go back and make sure I did my calculations correctly - I am using random generation from the Basic book, but I give 1 XP per silver, so I divide the gold by 10 to get the same XP but 1/10 the gold. Except I think I left the silver as rolled, when it too should be divided by 10 to get the correct XP amount.

I'm running another session in mid-July and one at the beginning of August. Plenty of time to study up on more GM techniques and try to improve things.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nuts! Final Edition : Some Pictures and Reflections

I already see the point of the 10 games, 10 times challenge : it's all too easy to miss things in the first second, or even third play. It is not enough to just read rules, you need to PLAY them. 

And play I did - 3 more games of Nuts! - bringing my total to four, so far. 

Because I know I'm playing ten games, there is incentive to play the next one and make sure I fix any mistakes I made previously. I want to make sure that I'm not assuming things, so there was a lot of page flipping, with games taking around 2 hours to play and document. 

There is definitely a learning curve, as with all but the simplest rules. I missed things each game, mostly related to the control of the non-player force, but by the fourth, I had much of it committed to memory, or at least knew where to look when I wanted to be sure of my understanding.

Patrol Mission Setup. '44. France Somewhere.
I even found the rule I was hoping for regarding multiple groups and the In Sight test on what would be page 104, if it was numbered.   Unfortunately, it only made the matter a tiny bit less foggy.

Germans pinning down my men in the yellow farm house. Sarge and Pvt. Harry move up to lob grenades.
I'm not sure about the logistics of tossing grenades over hedgerows, but it sounded right.
Looks like things might go my way, right? Nope.
Despite their losses, Germans would kill or capture the entire team in the yellow farmhouse.

Second game.
Mission : Defend
Enemy Objective : Exit from my edge of the table.
I took my squad (dubbed 1st squad) and another squad, aptly called 2nd squad)
I made the Sarge a Star, and rolled up attributes per the rules for all of 1st squad.

I had the bright idea to send 2nd squad's BAR team up to identify the last PEF.
Turns out there was one in the ruined building.
(all buildings automatically contain a Potential Enemy)

The figure top center lobbed a grenade up over the hill and that was followed by the remainder of the Germans charging into melee. Melee is brutal, as seen here.
Red 6s are Dead, Red 3s are Out of Fight.

A chaotic and deadly melee at that.
You can see 1st squad, bottom left, trying to join the fight.

On a combined score of 7 for initiative, the higher rolling side gets to roll for reinforcements. Germans rolled high:
It's only a squad because I ran out of figures for the "rest of platoon" called for.
I decided my forces would fall back with the wounded.
The biggest thing I have learned so far is: 

If i had been in charge of the US forces in WWII, Hitler would have conquered North America.

Setup for 3rd game.
Mission : Defend.
Enemy Objective : Eliminate us.
I took a whole platoon sans HQ this time.

Everyone in the clear is actually prone (both sides), except the guys on the road.
They are running, but they are sitting ducks.

His last moments caught on camera.
This is just the 2nd turn! Do not get caught in the open!
This game lasted all of 4 turns before 2nd and 3rd squad retreated off table (by my decision, not game mechanics) and first squad was reduced to 2 men as they tried to flank the Germans in the woods.
To that I would also add, I need to throw out all of my six-siders, because clearly they have a pro-German bias

Make no mistake. These games have been enjoyable - full of emotion high and low, and I'm looking forward to the next game. 

Speaking of, the next game will be a patrol on the Eastern front; perhaps my Soviets will fare better. 

But, first, I should probably read up on small unit tactics, because clearly, I have no idea what I am doing!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Paint Table Saturday - I have no idea what number this is.

It's been some time since I've done one of these.

Although I have been painting, it's just rarely on a Saturday. 

Tonight, I  primed the 1/32 WWII figs in the back 2 rows. I cheated and included the Great Northern War Swedes I started last night. Shhhh! Don't tell!

I haven't done white primer in ages, but I thought, what the heck? Mostly, I was inspired by the painting tutorials over on All the King's Men..

For the Swedes, I'm totally changing my painting approach to follow along with the tutorial at ATKM that I linked above - although, I'm not doing washes I mean the order of what gets painted first. That explains why they are ghosts still (normally I painted like they are getting dressed). These 12 figures represent the 4th battalion to be painted. I really need to get some artillery and cavalry done after this.

I won't be changing the painting approach to the 1/32 guys, since I block paint with no black lines. The WWII figs are the first I've ever run through the dishwasher prior to priming. They feel VERY different than when i hand scrub and soak them in detergent and it's for the better. There are definitely little or no oils or mold release left on them when they finish the regular cycle. 

These 8 figs will allow me to field three 7-figure units for the US and Germany. That equates to a 21-figure platoon (three 7-figure squads, sans HQ), or, for the bigger games (like Blitzkrieg Commander,say), a company of three 7-figure platoons (1-figure platoon HQ, 3 x 2-figure squads). 

I think, for this scale, 7 figures looks right for a section in a platoon sized game, and I already play 1/72 with 7-figure platoons for a company sized game and think that looks fine. I might try to paint up a 30+ figure platoon in 1/32, but I'd probably have to reserve using that many figures for the living room floor.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Ever Expanding Dungeon : Session 28, pt 2

Well before dawn, in the darkness of early morning, the party assembled, inventoried their gear and began the several hour trek to the entrance the townsfolk had informed them of - the very same one the legendary Perceval used on his first delve into the depths.

After they arrived, and checked their gear one last time, Ygg lit a torch and passed it to Leegand while the party arranged itself into a suitable order.

[ marching order:

Ygg Runolf
Zilliniy Eomond


As they descended into the darkness [I decided that the orbs of light were no longer there] Ygg looked at the map.

“If this map is actually of this dungeon, then it looks like there’s a pit trap at the bottom of the steps. Who’s the lightest?”

All eyes turned towards Zilliniy. “I’m pretty sure it’s gramps over there” she said, nodding at Lykidas.

Ygg contemplated that for a moment. 

“She’s right. Let’s get a rope around his waist. Zilliniy, you walk down the steps with him - don’t even think about stepping onto the ground. Cover him with your bow in case something is in the room. I’ll move down behind them in case the unholy living dead are present. Eomond and Runolf, you two keep a good grip on the rope. Leegand come down the steps a bit, but keep back - we don’t want the torch to give us away. "

[Does the party accept this? 50/50, Chaos 5, No. 

I decide this means there's some discension, Lykidas protests.

Ygg will attempt to convince Lykidas. Lykidas makes the point that  he couldn’t be of much use if there’s anything down there. 

I use my system or interparty interactions, and Ygg and the rest of the party come around.

Will Leegand volunteer since he’s a thief and all? Somewhat likely, 20, yes.

Does that hold? chaos 5, 10, yes


Lykidas disagreed with the whole idea of sending him into a possible pit trap - seeing as his weapons were rather limited, not to mention his strength. Ygg conceded and Leegand, experienced in climbing as part of his trade, volunteered to switch places with the old man.

[I rolled 1d6 on the dungeon stocking table in b/x and got 4, special. 

I used my special table and got "oddball" ]

As Zilliniy and Leegand reached the bottom of the steps, a large, green glowing, floating eye, in the center of the room, spun to greet them with a piercing gaze.

[Does this setup hold? Chaos 5, 8, yes]

Lowering his voice to a whisper, Leegand turned to the elf, “Is it alive?”

"I don't know" she said, her voice barely audible, but her furrowed brow gave away the computations she was considering. As if to test her hypothesis, she let loose with her knocked arrow.

[Is it physical? 6, yes.
I decide an AC of 5, would be good. Which in Ascending AC, is AC:  14

Her arrow is wide of the mark. (4, miss)

At this point I don't know what the eye is or if it will be able to attack. 

Roll initiative:
party 3, eye 6

Since it won, I have to learn what I can about it. Can it attack? 50/50 78, no.]

“No one advance!” ordered Ygg. “If it’s not attacking us, it’s either not violent, or it’s trying to lure us in”

“Or it’s an alarm system” said Leegand.

Considering the latter option as likely, again and again, Zilliniy shot at the eye. Again and again, she missed. [I rolled nothing higher than a 10!]

Turning to the party behind her, she raised her voice, “If anyone else wants to participate, feel free!”

Leegand grabbed a sling stone and hurled it across the room where it hit the opposite wall with a thud.  [He rolled 11. Better, I guess]

“This is ridiculous” said Eomond, to no one in particular.

“Let’s ignore it for now, check for the trap door and then attack it if we need to” suggested Ygg.

Leegand gently placed one foot then another onto the stone floor at the base of the steps. He stood, tranferring weight little by little onto his feet. Up the steps Runolf and Eomond held fast to the rope and braced themselves across the stair well.

The floor did not give (rolled 1d6, got a 5). He stepped further into the room, and the eye followed his steps.

Zilliniy. let loose another arrow, more out of boredom than any desire to destroy the eye, whatever it might be. (4, miss)

Meanwhile, Leegand jumped up and down on the stone floor. He was about to give up when the floor gave way. Briefly, he hung in mid-air over the pit beneath him. With his quick reflexes, he had enough time to try to twist to face the wall that he soon found himself accelerating towards, pulled in the direction of his rope's anchors. He brought his feet up to absorb the impact.

Does he take any damage? Roll vs Dex, 7 vs 13. No

“There’s a pit alright!” The voice came from one end of the rope, it's speaker no longer visible to his companions.

Is the eye doing anything now? 50/50, C 5, 15, yes

The eye slowly rotated away from where Leegand had stood a moment before and returned its attention back to the steps.

Zilliniy shot again and missed again. “Just warming up” she said, followed by a nervous laugh.

Ygg hurried town the steps, “Lykidas bring the torch!”

[and then it occurred to me what made the eye really special.]

As Lykidas stepped into the room the eye sizzled and sputtered, unleashing an invisible wave at the torch (17, i’ll say it hit) extinguishing it immediately.


Ygg didn't want to lose anyone to the pit by accident. He swung his pack around, and pulled out a torch. After a moment of fumbling through the contents of the bag, he pulled out the flint and steel. The dim electric green glow of the eye provided ample light by which to light the torch.

First on spark, then another, and finally the torch caught fire. Instantly, the eye fired its fire extinguishing blast at the torch (7, miss) but this time Ygg shielded it with his body. The sensation as it careened into his body was like a dip in an icy bath.

Since he was on the floor already and knew vaguely where the pit was, he grabbed his war hammer and charged the eye. Blow after blow reigned upon it until it shattered in a slow motion nova of glowing shards scattering in all directions.

[Everyone in LOS save or take damage.

Y: 18, saves
Z: 5, fail
Ly: 3, fail

Z. takes 2
LY takes 2]

Ygg lit a torch, while Zilliniy (1d4, 3) and Lykidas (1d4, 1) bandaged their wounds, and then he carried the torch over to the pit and the dangling Leegand.

Both sets of eyes fell upon the body at the bottom of the pit. Even 20’ away they could see it had splayed unnaturally - likely killed by the fall.

“It looks like he’s packed for adventuring doesn’t it?” asked Ygg.

Leegand agreed and called up to Eomond and Runolf to lower him. Looking at Ygg, he said, “Only one way to find out.”

END SCENE chaos stays at 5.

As Leegand reached the bottom of the pit, 10x10x20 deep, he could see that the corpse had decayed somewhat, but not significantly.

He called up to the party, "Looks pretty recent."
A bandoleer of daggers, silver daggers at that, caught his eye.

[Does the setup hold?8, yes]

Leegand rooted about carefully, calling the items out.

Zilliniy peeped over the age and [rolled 1d6 on Z’s table: 4.  “Manchiver really is a friend of the family, but Zilliniy is really only after his spellbook. She will still pay to bury his body properly, but will spend less than the 50GP she has saved up”] cried out, “By the guardians of the forest! that is Manchiever Muntz!”

Even had she not rambled about him and her family's ties to him, the party was well aware of the significance of finding the body of the party that had previously braved this place.

Talking at the speed of light, the elf half shouted, “We need to get him out of here. He needs a proper burial”

They hauled the body out of its unfortunate tomb, and then, true to the code of dungeon explorers everywhere, they relieved him of his possessions. After all, the dead don't need these things, but the living do.

Is the spell book there? very unlikely. 14, no.

In a loud angry whisper she said “Where is it?" Before anyone could ask her what she was talking about, she added, "His spell book. I had hoped to find it - a chance to keep his memory alive. And it’s not there. "

“Maybe, “ offered Lykidas, "he kept it somewhere not on his person. It would be foolish to bring ones spell books into a place like this. They could be destroyed and then what?’

Zilliniy brightened and Lykidas smiled, the act contorting his pox marked face into something to frighten children.

"OK, everyone let’s gather his stuff, we’ll come back for him" said Runolf.

The elf seemed annoyed by his suggestion“We have to bury him!”

“Bury? We have to go back to town for that. “ said Eomond

"The boy is right. The dead are dead, it's not like worse can happen to him" said Runolf. His pragmatism wasn't making any headway.

Ygg stepped in, hoping to avoid any unnecessary delays, but also accommodating what he deemed a reasonable request especially for the body of someone who was a friend of the good Sister Linkat. "Look, I know he’s a friend, but a funeral pyre can be done properly outside, and we could save some time."

Does everyone accept? very likely  57, yes.

With that, the party returned to the surface where Ygg presided over the construction of the funeral pyre, and Zilliniy offered a few words, ostensibly targeted to the ear of the Hedonistic Lumberjack, on Manchiever’s behalf.

As the fire crackled and the flames consumed the corpse, each party member said a silent goodbye to the well-known, if hapless, magic-user. The deed done, it was time for the party to return to their original purpose: the exploration of the dungeon.

End scene Chaos 5

Down they went again, but this time with full knowledge of the pit trap. The room was otherwise empty, save the shards of glass.

Does it hold? 3. No. Altered scene

Is there something else here now? 50/50, 26, yes. Roll on wandering monster table. d30 book. I rolled 2 warriors (2nd level fighters).

Reaction Check from B/X: 4

Two people, in black-as-the-Abyss armor, with spiked helm, shoulders, and elbows clomped through the door opposite the stairs. Their drawn swords and shields gave away their hostility.

“Who dares disturb the sanctuary of our Master!”

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ten Games x 10

Inspired by Itinerant Hobbyist: 10 Games Challenge (which goes back to a boardgamegeek challenge if you follow the links), I put some thought into the games I'd like to play 10x to really learn this year. 

With only 6 months left, it's going to be a tight squeeze, but fortunately, a few of these are already under way and at least two take less than 15 minutes to play.

Now if a game is just not fun after a few plays, you can abandon it and replace it with another one.

  • Nuts! Final Edition - I've played this 1x (not counting just testing out the rules). I'll probably play several one-offs (including the Chocolate & Cigarettes section), before using the included campaign system.
  • Blitzkrieg Commander - Similar in coverage to ‘Tactical Combat’ WWII rules  which I like and are pretty simple.  I'll see if there's enough special about it, and whether or not I like the chrome, to make it worth changing systems.
  • Song of Blades and Heroes - I have had this for awhile. I even got the first Reaper Bones Kickstarter so I could field warbands for it. I also have Drums and Shakos, and Flying Lead, so this will be my gateway drug for Ganesha Games stuff.
  • Swords & Wizardry : Whitebox - As the new rule set for The Ever Expanding Dungeon campaign, this is a gimme. It also sets the length of Season 2 (if you will) to at least 10 "episodes", no matter how many TPKs.
  • Tunnels & Trolls - 5.x. Ariale has been playing some solos and it's got me wanting to play. Plus, I have the freebie PDFs from the Kickstarter that are calling to me.
  • Adventure Maximus - My Kickstarter reward arrived yesterday and I really really really want to play this!
Board/Card/Dice Games:
  • Urbion - Solitaire card game from Z-Mann. I've already played several times (I'll say 5x, which is probably an underestimate). I want to bring in the advanced options.
  • Battle Over Britain - I've played this a few times this year, but I'll say twice. I want to try all of the options though, and the additional solitaire enhancements.
  • Mice & Mystics - I have only played this once, and it wasn't this year, so that doesn't count. The rules aren't complicated, but I remember it took watching the video in order to really grok it.  My goal is to play the included campaign solo.
  • Pathfinder Card Game : Rise of the Rune Lords - I admit, the box is kind of intimidating

The Ever Expanding Dungeon : Session 28 pt 1

Sitting at a table in the noisy Zealous Dagger, Ygg, his eyes blurred slightly by the mulled wine, surveyed his compatriots. 

They were a mixed lot indeed: from the white haired violet eyed elf to the tall mustachioed footpad, the Rat King to the one-eyed magic user, and not to forget the rather surly and burly fellow with two axes slung from his belt. They had arrived in Chevelle a few days ago. Ygg, required by the duties of his office, set about meeting with the sheriff and some of the townsfolk. Sister Linkat was much beloved and he would have his work cut out for him, especially since he planned to follow her footsteps into the dungeon that claimed her life.

The party made their final preparations with little knowledge about the dungeon itself, the only information they had was the directions to the entrance loggers had discovered nearly 9 months ago. They had all heard the stories about the town’s own Perceval, about the brave and righteous Sister Linkat and the mule that will live its days well cared for by the fund she had set aside for it before her last adventure, about the defense of the town from wanton destruction from marauding ghouls unleashed from the dungeon, and attacks from a power mad wizard bent on razing the village.

They also heard the darker side, tales of the townsfolk lost in the depths of the dungeon as they tried to earn quick coin carrying torches, about the many many men and women, human and otherwise, who made the trek out and never returned. As one local observed, never had their been so many funeral pyres in such a short period of time.

As they prepared to adjourn to their rooms, a stooped old man, wearing the classic hooded cloak to make his face all but invisible, shuffled over to their table. 

His long white beard spilled down the front of the cloak and to Ygg it looked as if the beard grew right out of the man’s chest, as there was, as far as he could see, no face attached to it. From the folds of his garment the old man produced an ivory scroll tube, sealed on both ends - the wax thick and yellow had dripped down the sides and hardened there, giving the appearance of ridges. With a flourish, he tossed it into the center of the table, amongst the half filled mugs, the picked over pheasant, the apple cores and grape stems, and cheese rinds.

As suddenly as he appeared, he was gone - absorbed by the darkness of the tavern and the noise of the crowd.

“These things always start this way, “ said Eomond.

“What things?” asked Ygg.

“Adventures. Epic tales of survival against terrible odds in underground passageways where gold is but a sword thrust away!”

Eomond’s excitement was infectious. Lykidas, oldest amongst them, save for the elf of course, eagerly opened the tube and drew out its contents. A map of a huge sprawling underground complex,with incomprehensible notes here and there on it unfolded before them.

“Is that blood?” asked Zilliniy.

It was.

Blood stained, dirt and grime smeared. Worn with time and many hours in a harsh environment, the map was clearly hard earned.

“Do you think...” but before he could finish his thought, Eomond spoke up.

“It has to be. Thats how these things go!”

The party adjourned to their rooms, but none slept much that night, as the excitement of tomorrow and of the dungeon they would explore, the adventures they would have, the troubles they would face and the treasure they would find, raced in their minds.