Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dwimmermount with Middle Schoolers -- XI

The latest session of our Dwimmermount campaign opened with the few ragged survivors of the self-styled Fabulous Five licking their wounds in the small castle town of Muntberg.  Setting aside pride for the moment, they approached The Seekers, a more seasoned group of freelance adventurers who had recently set up shop in Muntberg with their own designs on exploring the vast megadungeon of Dwimmermount.

In a meeting at Muntberg's Green Dragon Inn, Vale managed to secure magical healing for Curteff, Y’draneal and herself, in exchange for a lengthy and detailed account of all their discoveries and encounters within the ancient fortress-dungeon.  Vale was shocked to discover that The Seekers already had a thorough map of the first level of Dwimmermount, purchased from an unnamed third party, and she was able to confirm its accuracy by checking it against Y’draneal’s own careful cartography.

Part of the group's payment for their restoration at the hands of the captain of The Seekers, a priestess of the order of Saint Tyche, was to take into their party a henchman of The Seekers, Yang the fighting man, who would accompany them and periodically report back to his masters about the group’s discoveries.

Portable AltarSeveral sessions earlier, on a visit to the city of Adamas, Vale had agreed to transport a portable ivory and wood altar to Saint Tyche to the second level of Dwimmermount’s dungeon in exchange for a blessing from Saint Tyche’s clergy.  

Unfortunately, in their last flight from the subterranean fortress-complex the altar had been left behind.  Now a fledgling priest of Saint Tyche’s order, an ill-favored fellow with twitchy fingers and a grim aspect, joined the group to see that the altar was recovered and properly consecrated in accordance with the wishes of his superiors.

Finally, Rufus the woodsman was hired in Muntberg to serve as a spearman and help round out the party’s fighting strength, bringing them to a well balanced mix of three fighters, one cleric, one thief and one wizard.

Gingerly entering the Red Gate, the explorers found no trace of the vengeful rats, Blaze the Impulsive, Saint Tyche’s altar, or the acidic blob that had made such a disturbing tableau when they had last passed this way.  It appeared that the recovery of the altar would be more of an undertaking than first anticipated.

Probing the eastern end of the dungeon, the adventurers happened upon a small library which they began to search, but Curteff soon grew bored and backtracked to try another door.  Just beyond the threshold stood a startled degenerate Dwimmerling, one of the wild-bearded little fellows whom Vale had once befriended.  Wasting no time, Curteff seized the struggling little man and popped him into his sack!  

Angry cries revealed nearly a dozen more of the twisted dwarven folk, and battle was joined, but without their flaming oil trap to help them, the creatures soon fell to a volley of arrows and spells.  With a cry of, “Hethlaaaaaaa!” (the name of her slain henchman) Vale unleashed a Burning Hands spell, the surviving deranged dwarves broke and fled, trying desperately to escape through a secret door.

As 4:30 and the end of our session approached, the group peered into a fourth room where they saw a squad of men in ancient Thulian regalia speaking together.  A swift probe confirmed that these men weren’t corporeal at all, but were merely the psychic echoes of some long-gone inhabitants of the fortress, activated by the residual azoth (raw magic) that so saturates the mountain.

Thought: for all that my players are really into our adventures, we are STILL at a place where hit modifiers and damage modifiers are slowing us down at the table even after eleven sessions.  

The complexity of “longsword: +5 to hit, 1D8+3 damage” continues to create uncertainty and make combat more of a trudge than it needs to be.  

I don’t like to switch horses mid-stream, but I’m tempted to drop the modifiers and just go to a straight 1D6 for weapon damage as I do in my B/X Homeguard campaign.  Then again, if I don’t similarly tone down the monsters to compensate, will we just end up with constant Total Party Kills?  

Also, my students live in a Pathfinder / post 3rd edition D&D world … if they ever sit down to play a tabletop RPG outside of our group then I’d like them to be able to speak the common tongue of the gamer table … which these days really favors lots of fiddly modifiers on every roll.

Hmm ... what to do ...?

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