Monday, December 24, 2012

ICE Rolemaster Standard System, 3rd edition, and 4th edition Stone Rune Trade Dress Illustrations

While doing freelance layout illustrations and artwork for Iron Crown Enterprises in the mid to late 1990's I was tasked with drawing various trade dress illustrations for the new Rolemaster Standard System line.  One of the assistant art directors took notice of the stone borders I did for the MERP Moria module previously, and decided to use a similar style of "trade dress" for the new Rolemaster line of rule books at the time in order to help promote the new product line.  Following this description are scans of the original trade dress illustrations for the various types of magic found in Rolemaster derived from Spell Law, followed by runes for the various Rolemaster skills, racial types and character class abilities.  They were drawn with ink on vellum and done after the initial prototype drawing style was accepted by ICE for the entire series of illustrations completed for the books.

The first three runes below are my interpretation of the Essence Rune, the Mentalism Rune and the Channeling Rune from the original Spell Law book.  The runes that follow were originally envisioned as spell casting runes for the various other classes and sub-classes of spell casters and magical spells found in the tome.

Rolemaster Standard System, 3rd / 4th Ed. Spell Runes

Following this series of books, I was tasked with creating a series of runes to be used as trade dress for the various skills and racial abilities of the Rolemaster Standard System Core Rules.  The following rune drawings were generated in the process of creating the books and primarily depicted character classes, races and even a few abilities and skill class types.

Rolemaster Standard System, 3rd / 4th Ed. Skill, Class and Racial Runes

Following this series of drawings were a few various and miscellaneous runes done to fill in the gaps in the remaining product line as needed after the initial set of drawings were completed.





Copyright notice:  All original artwork on this page is displayed for self promotion purposes only and is copyrighted by the original artist, Daniel Cruger.  This artwork may be downloaded and used for personal use only and may not be reproduced for commercial purposes in any way without the express written consent of the owner.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Averlorn Campaign - Dungeon Module B2 The Minotaur and Owl Bear's Lairs, the Gnolls and the Shrine of Evil Chaos!

Recap from 1/21/2012 and beyond...

After finally defeating the last of the Bugbears, the group turned its attention to the enchanted labyrinth we had explored previously with the confusion spell on it.  After some time we eventually found the Minotaur’s cave at the end of the Labyrinth and it was quickly defeated mostly due to the casting of multiple magic missiles in quick succession by the three wizards in the party as the others engaged it in melee.  We found some great magic items in its lair which were divvied up amongst the group.  Following our foray into the enchanted Minotaur’s maze, we returned to the Owlbear’s lair and awakened the beast in order to defeat it and steal its treasure.  It was a much tougher encounter than we had anticipated as the ferocious creature managed to bear hug and rend one of our fighters hurting him badly but eventually, the beast was defeated.  At this point we turned our attention to the other side of the complex again and entered the Gnoll’s lair.  After several tough combats we eventually took out the Gnolls and their leader and relieved them of their treasure.

Within the Gnoll Chieftain’s quarters we found a fireplace with a chimney above that lead to the surface, and which was wide enough to gain access to or egress from the place by someone able to make the climb.  We also found a secret door in the Gnoll Chieftan’s room that led to a corridor where we found a pair of Boots of Elvenkind on the body of a dead thief that had succumbed to his wounds in the little used hallway long ago.  The hallway led into a little used storage room where we were surprised by and fought a Gelatinous Cube!  At first we didn't see it and of course were surprised, but it was eventually defeated after a close call with one of the group that was nearly consumed by its quivering yet transparent body.  Within its gelatinous body we found a magic wand and some other items and a few coins.  Beyond the storage room was a series of tunnels that contained several doors.  Our Monk Amul even managed to find a staircase that led upwards at the end of the hallway but we didn't explore the area any further afterwards.  After these adventures we returned to the keep to rest for a while and eventually returned to the Caves of Chaos for more exploration.

We decided to enter the last cave within the box canyon of the complex that we had not yet explored.  The cave mouth in the center of the box canyon was surrounded by a number of twisted and misshapen trees giving the whole place a less than wholesome feel and an eerie and unnatural quiet ensued giving one the impression that even nature was afraid of this place.  As we entered the cave mouth, it led into a 10’ hallway that spilled into a larger 20’ wide hallway in which all of the sounds we made seemed to be amplified due to the slick glassy surface of the worn down smooth stone floor.  This made it very difficult to hear anything but the noises that we made as we walked down the corridor.  We continued exploring the complex and made it to a corner of the corridor that had two doors on either wall of the outside of the corner.  The one on the right led to a set of stairs down, so we decided to mark it on the map but leave it unexplored for now.  We surmised that it may have led to the stairs leading up that we found beyond the Gnoll’s lair since that area was on a lower elevation on the hillside than this area. 

Oddly enough, while we were checking out the doors, we were surprised in the noisy hallway by a large group of zombies due to the excess amount of noise we were making since it was hard to hear anything else but ourselves.  As the battle ensued, our clerics failed to turn the foul undead creatures with their holy symbols and things were looking grim for the group as our fighters were taking a beating.  Just as it looked like we were about to turn the tide of the combat, the other door opened up and we were confronted by a group of four evil clerics and a fierce melee ensued on both sides of the group.  One of them cast a command spell on one of the fighters and told him to “die” though he only dropped to the floor for a round.

We were hemmed in at this point and things were looking grim for the group, but one of the spellcasters made good use of a Protection from Undead scroll that we had acquired elsewhere in the complex, and read it aloud to save the day as we managed to defeat the vile undead creatures.  At the same time, Lorinar cast stinking cloud on the group of clerics in the room just after the door opened and they were immediately incapacitated by the gas and were gagging and vomiting on the floor of the room.  We used a rope and grapple hook to retrieve them from the cloud filled room and relieved them of their belongings and their lives.  They had a number of odd looking amulets on them which we found out later were in fact evil and we also took their robes which we thought might be useful later.

Having had a full adventuring day we decided to return to the keep to rest and recover from our exploits.  On the following day, we returned but decided not to walk right into the front door of the evil cave complex where we had fought the zombies and clerics previously and announce our presence to our enemies.  Instead, we decided to enter the complex by a different route that might attract less attention.  So this time, our Monk Amul shimmied down the chimney to the Gnoll Chieftan’s quarters below and the group followed down the rope he had used.  We started exploring the area beyond the secret door and store room and Amul scouted ahead a bit to determine if the stair at the end of the hallway connected to the area with the undead and clerics and he determined that it did.

Rather than ascend to that level, or explore a couple of other passages that branched off from the main passage, we decided to open another door that was in the hallway instead.  The door was bolted shut so after prying it open, we descended a set of stairs beyond into an old dusty crypt chamber below to search for loot.  Within were a number of coffins and sarcophagi which we proceeded to search.  When we opened up one of the sarcophagi an ancient and evil creature within sprang to life and attacked the group – it was a level draining Wight!  A fierce and tense melee ensued in which our Paladin was hit by the malevolent and evil being and was drained of a life energy level before we finally managed to slay the horrific creature.  Within a secret compartment hidden in its resting place we found a magical sword and a magical scroll.  After this combat we returned to the keep to rest and recoup.  At this time we discovered that the keep was bristling with activity and that the entire area was on alert for an attack from a large group of marauding humanoids that had been spotted nearby and that had attacked a few farmsteads!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Averlorn Campaign - Dungeon Module B2 Into the Bugbear's Lair

Recap from 1-13-2012  

The Brotherhood of the Black Crowes returned to the scene of the previous action with fresh reinforcements tasked with avenging their fallen comrades and recovering their bodies if possible. This time, knowing that there was the possibility of being hit from two sides again, Lorinar cast Stinking Cloud on the tunnel to the right to keep the Bugbears on that side from attacking (the duration of that spell is semi permanent meaning it lasts for 24 hours per our house rules) while we raided the chambers down the left hand branch of the tunnels. No sooner had he cast it than two Bugbears appeared seemingly out of nowhere and surprised the group. A brief struggle ensued and they were overcome in short order.

We went down to the room on the left and it was empty so we went up the stairs since that's where the leader that we killed came from last time we were here, and was the most likely location of the good loot. There was a door on the left and a passage straight ahead.  The monk listened and heard Bugbears whispering so we decided to open the door. Before we could though, the bugbears on the other side opened it instead and surprised us again! A fierce combat ensued between the new bugbear leader and his two female cohorts and they were finally overcome after an epic struggle. We looted the room and went down the hallway and found a storage room with lines of catnip laid out on a table that turned out to be a Thugee (Norse) shield that we later determined was magical. We bagged up the catnip for further use since it appeared to be a favorite of bugbears, grabbed the shield and a cask of oil and left the other foodstuffs there to be retrieved later.

Lorinar also found a secret door in the room that led into a natural cavern that branched into three separate tunnels that led out of it.  In the room were three giant fire beetles that attacked the group! When the group entered the room to attack them, we got a dizzy feeling so Lorinar, Ragnar and our new sea elf warrior ally Narsil backtracked to the secret door and discovered that the effect went away when you left the room - the cavern was enchanted with some sort of disorienting magical effect!  The others defeated the Fire Beatles in melee combat and then couldn't figure out which way was the way back to the secret door since they were disoriented!  Some guessed correctly but the others did not and started blundering further into the maze.  Since we were out of healing spells we decided not to risk exploring these tunnels any further since we could get lost in there for some time with no way to heal ourselves in the event that we needed healing magics.

So we went back out of the Bugbear lair and back into the cave below that smelled of death. There were bodies of dead adventurers and humanoids everywhere that appeared to have been killed by some sort of large predator. We searched the bodies and found a small amount of coinage but were attacked by a group of giant rats that were quickly dispatched. The monk listened and heard the sound of some large creature snoring and obviously asleep. Our new wizard Abscondias Akbar commanded his Figurine of Wondrous Power to turn into its owl form and we sent it in to scout ahead. It discovered a sleeping Owl Bear in a chamber at the end of one of the passages and we decided to let sleeping owlbears lie and headed back to the keep to rest up and recover spells.

The next day we returned to the caves and the Bugbear lair right before the affect of the Stinking Cloud wore off. When it was gone we went down the hallway which led to a "T" intersection and turned right down a staircase. Below were six bugbears with spears (the ones we had fought before that killed Illundria) and our vengeance was at hand! Two of the wizards cast sleep and five of the six bugbears and our new Paladin Sierra dropped to the floor. We awoke Sierra and killed the remaining bugbear and found some keys and coinage on their bodies. The keys opened up the doors to two prison cells further down the hallways in both directions. The first contained a number of humanoids including a large Bugbear that swore he would help us to defeat the other Bugbears and not attack us (this was verified with Amul's Scroll of Truth). The other prisoner we released was a very strong wildman fighter who appeared to be crazy. He was very intent on getting into "some killing" and the paladin noticed that he had an evil aura about him! He proceeded to arm and armor himself from the fallen Bugbear's weapons and armor and went up the stairs urging us to go kill the remaining bugbears. Meanwhile, we found two more humans in the other cell along with more humanoids. We released the humanoids and freed the humans who vowed to fight for us and said they were former adventurers who had been captured. The wildman at the top of the stair was urging us forward before we could equip the two humans.  Finally, our Thugee cleric Skjeorn had had enough of his ranting and cast hold person on him and we disarmed him and returned him to his cell - he was evil after all and couldn't be trusted.

We went back up the stairs with our new henchmen and down the last remaining passageway where we encountered a large number of Bugbears including females and young that appeared to be imminently hostile, so two of the wizards cast sleep and knocked them all out and it was over - the Bugbear lair had been defeated and our fallen comrades had been avenged! So having successfully completed our mission (though we never found the bodies) we left the Bugbear lair and pondered our next move.  Since we hadn't really been injured too badly, and had most of our healing spells we decided to either enter the enchanted caverns or return to the Owl Bear's lair in search of more loot!

A brief note - despite it being Friday the 13th, our luck was normal in this game. We won roughly half of our initiative rolls and were only surprised by the bugbears roughly half of the time. This made a huge impact on the final outcome of the session and contributed to our successful foray.  During the previous fight with the Bugbears, not only were we surprised on the initial encounter, we never won initiative (lost 5 in a row) and only tied twice after that and half of the group was wiped out.


Friday, October 19, 2012

NIGHT RIDER - Fiction from High School and a Cool 3D Drawing of Skull Castle!

Holmes Basic Sample Dungeon Cross Section
I was poking around in the attic the other day and finally found my two copies of Gallery Magazine that I worked on as the Science Fiction Editor back in high school.  I wrote two science fiction/fantasy stories for the magazine during that time but distinctly remember writing the second piece as a junior in 1983 because in essence, it was my first ever written recap of D&D play, and also my first attempt at fiction writing.  Rather than just writing it from a blank piece of paper which I have always had a hard time doing, I wrote up an AD&D adventure centered around a wizard's keep called Skull Castle and the story itself is called "A Visit to Skull Castle".  So where did I get the idea for skull castle you might ask?  The Holmes Basic D&D sample dungeon cross section for Skull Mountain of course!  For the second story, I ran a friend of mine through the adventure that I wrote during study hall - yeah, we weren't studying real hard, but it was for the school magazine after all!  I took notes during play about what happened and afterwards, I wrote up a recap of the adventure as a basis for the second magazine story.

I totally forgot about the fact that I had done this little prequel story first while in 10th grade in the 1982 edition of Gallery Magazine, and that it included a very cool 3D view of the castle that I drew up and inked for the story!  I was just learning drafting at the time (I took a drafting class in 9th grade in high school and eventually got a degree in architecture) but had drawn up many a dungeon plan prior to drawing this.  In fact, if it wasn't for D&D I probably would have never become an architect in the first place.  The castle drawing actually looks like a perspective but may have been an isometric type of drawing though if so, it's it doesn't look like its in the usual 30/60 degree angle format (but it may be).  I'll have to slap this sucker on the old drafting board and see if it really is a true perspective or an isometric drawing.  Either way, it's a precursor to some of the cool castle drawings I did for Iron Crown Enterprises back in the day, a few of which were 3D perspectives or isometric/axonometric projections like this one.  It also illustrates my fanaticism and intense interest in castle design and construction and castle drawing which was a direct result of playing D&D as a kid.

I had a book when I was a kid (though I'm not sure where it is now) simply entitled Castle by David MacAulay (see Amazon link here:  Castle by David MacAulay) which describes how the Norman Conquerors built their castles to control Wales after their conquest of England in 1066.  The book is wonderfully illustrated and includes plans, perspectives and illustrations of a fictitious castle supposedly built in Wales following the Norman Conquest.  The drawings are very detailed and take you from design through construction, and even illustrate a siege of the castle at the end by an opposing army.  This is where I learned the most about how actual historical castles were really built, and the book is highly recommended reading for anyone who has an interest in this topic, especially gamers and military history buffs.  I went on to earn a minor degree in Architectural History from UVA along with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Design, and wrote my minor thesis on, you guessed it, the Evolution of the Tower Keep in Medieval England.  That's up in the attic too and maybe someday I'll scan that in to post here as well.

In the meantime, enjoy my first foray into fiction writing and an early 3D castle drawing in the story below.  I'll post the recap of the actual adventure from the 1983 publication of Gallery Magazine as a followup to this blog post.  I'll see if I can find the original plan layout for this castle and the dungeon write up to post here as well, but my guess is I've lost it at this point.  There's nothing to keep me from re-creating the castle plan and D&D adventure write up from the recap and the drawing below though!

Copyright notice:  All original artwork and works of fiction on this page are copyrighted by the original writer and artist, Daniel Cruger.  This story and artwork may be downloaded and used for personal use only and may not be reproduced for commercial purposes in any way without the express written consent of the owner.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Averlorn Campaign - Dungeon Module B2 Of Hobgoblins, Bugbears, and a Fatal Foray

Recaps from 12-16-2011 and 1-6-2012

Part 1 The Hobgoblin's Lair

After the initial encounter with the goblins, we continued searching their lair and eventually found the chief’s quarters where we fought their leader, several guards and several female goblins and managed to kill them all.  We found a tapestry woven with silver and gold threads that was worth a fair sum of gold and a pewter bowl and some additional coinage as well.  In the next room we found a store room which was guarded by four more goblins and managed to slay them in a brief but fierce melee.  The room mostly contained ordinary supplies of no great worth.

We kept exploring the other side of the complex and went up a couple of flights of stairs which ended at a door.  We opened the door and encountered a large group of Hobgoblins which the wizards managed to put to sleep without too much trouble.  After the hobgoblins were put to the sword we continued exploring the Hobgoblin’s lair and eventually came into a prison/torture chamber occupied by two hobgoblins, one of which was wielding a whip.  After a short melee, the hobgoblins were dispatched and we released a plump merchant, two men at arms and the merchant’s wife who were chained to the wall.  The merchant told us he would give us a reward for rescuing him and his wife said she would give us a magical dagger as well.  The two mercenaries who were formerly the merchant’s guards agreed to fight for us as men at arms if we would arm and armor them in exchange for rescuing them.  Since we had released prisoners that needed to be returned to the keep safely, we decided it was a good time to go back at this point.

Once we collected our rewards and equipped our new men at arms, we returned to the Caves of Chaos once again to resume the exploration.  This time, we entered the next cave entrance up higher on the hill past the hidden entrance to the Ogre’s lair.  There was a closed door at this entrance with a sign on it written in common which said “Come in, we’d like to have you for dinner!”  Amul the monk examined the locked door and found a hidden latch on the outside that slid the bolt open to allow entry into the hallway beyond.  The group went down the right hand corridor since the areas to the left looked familiar - we had explored these other areas previously including the torture chamber/prison and the room connecting to the Goblin’s lair.  As we walked down the hall, the group was attacked by a group of six guards in a room off of the hallway.  A brief but fierce melee ensued and the six hobgoblins were dispatched without too much difficulty.  And that’s where we ended the session.

In the next session, we started off in the hobgoblin lair having just fought the guards in the room on the left of the hallway.  We knew we had company coming because we could hear them moving down the hall, so we fell back into the room and formed a line with Fauna and Sulethri attempting to block the entrance with the others behind them in the room.  A mob of hobgoblins showed up in the hallway with their leader behind them exhorting them to push into the room.  We held them back for a round or so but then they broke through on Sulethri's side, and swarmed around the wizards Lorinar and Ragnar on the left.  The rest of the group behind the front line guys couldn't do much to help so both spellcasters attempted to cast sleep while being engaged in melee with their shield spells up.

Ragnar got hit and lost his spell but Lorinar managed to get his Sleep Spell off and the crisis was averted as all of the lower hit die hobgoblins (except for the leader) plus our two henchmen were knocked out.  The leader tried to flee but Amul, Fauna and Lorinar chased him down at the door and the elf managed to put two arrows in him doing maximum damage with both arrows and killed him, just as the others rained blows down on him.  We dispatched the rest of the hobgoblins and searched their lair where we found an armory stocked full of weapons and armor including two suits of plate mail, one of which was dwarf sized which we gave to Rollo the fighter/cleric.  We gave one suit of plate mail to one of our henchmen fighters as well.  We also found a potion and a magic wand.

Part 2 The Bugbear’s Lair

After sacking the Hobgoblins lair and looting it thoroughly, the group fell back to the keep and paid the local cleric to cast some healing on the two characters that went down in the previous fight who were lucky enough to survive with only broken limbs.  Then we sold and divvied up the loot.  After all of this was taken care of and we acquired provisions, we headed back to the Caves of Chaos and decided to explore some of the caves on the right side of the valley during this trip.  Amul the monk checked out one cave on the lower right side near the valley floor but it "smelled of death" so we bypassed it.  Then we went up the hill to the cave just to the left of the last orc lair we had previously sacked.  There was a sign at the door in three languages inviting any and all humanoids in for dinner (or to be dinner rather).  It said come in and report to the room on the left for a meal.  I can't believe we did it but we walked right in and did just that and were surprised by three Bugbears!  (Talk about walking into the trap...) That wasn't the worst of it though (we could have handled them) but one rang a gong and alerted the whole complex to our presence, so we decided to fall back down the hall a bit since there was a stair on our right side and there would surely be more coming up behind us.  Sure enough, a really big leader Bugbear came down the stair to join the others and more started coming down the hall behind us!

So we fell back further so that we would at least be able to escape back out the way we came if things got bad and things started going south shortly thereafter.  Fauna went down on the front line of the group to the left and about six bugbears showed up in the hallway on the right and threw their spears at the two mercenaries covering our rear.  One of them went down with a spear in his chest (he was dead) and that left one 1st level mercenary between the bugbears and the wizards!  He didn't last long and went down as well and then they were on Illundria and Ragnar.  Lorinar and the Monk retreated out the hallway (the Monk was carrying the fallen Fauna) and beckoned the others to follow while they still had a chance since it was looking like we could lose the entire party at this point if we stayed to fight.  But Illundria and Skjeorn opted to stay and to try and cast spells to cover the retreat or make a heroic last stand.  Skjeorn cast hold person on the leader who failed his save and Sulethri the half orc warrior managed to kill him.  The group had only killed about four Bugbears at this point out of eleven or twelve.  Illundria got hit and lost her spell and Ragnar got hit and was hurt badly but was still standing at the end of the round.  Lorinar yelled “get out while you still can, I'll cover your retreat!”  And the others attempted to run.  Sulethri was hit as he attempted to flee and went down as was Illundria and she fell as well.  Lorinar cast stinking cloud in the cave mouth to prevent them from following us and we waited about an hour but the others never emerged.  The DM told us afterwards that they both rolled 3’s on their Death and Dismemberment rolls and were finished.

Fauna the Ranger rolled a 4 on her Death and Dismemberment roll and lost her arm!  It could have been worse, she could have died but fortunately made her saving throw against death.  On the way back we encountered a group of four ogres blocking the way along the road who tried to attack us but we successfully evaded them and made it back to the keep.

It was an exciting but brutal session.  The decision made by Illundria and Skjeorn to stay and fight in such a hopeless situation ended up being a bad call but it inspired Sulethri to stand with them and it cost two of the three dearly.  The group had been fairly lucky in the caves so far with only one loss, but our luck clearly ran out during this session.  The decision to walk right into the trap was what led up to the disaster in the first place though and was not very well thought out but luck was not with the Brotherhood of the Black Crowes that day.  First we were surprised by the Bugbears, then we lost initiative five times in a row (talk about unlucky!) and then only got two simultaneous initiative rolls at the end using B/X group initiative.  Group initiative works fine except when you have abhorrent luck like that.  When you can’t win initiative things can get ugly real fast as they did in this session.  So in that entire combat, we never won a single initiative and paid the price!  That was the difference right there since Illundria lost her Color Spray spell when she got hit.  Also, we have had many characters go down previously but had been very lucky with the Death and Dismemberment rolls, but that luck ran out as well during this session.  This was what you call the classic low level funnel to weed out the weak and unfit so that only the strongest survive - three characters and two NPC henchmen were lost in the RPG Cuisinart of doom known as the CAVES OF CHAOS!!!

After we returned to the keep and rested for a bit, Fauna decided that her adventuring days were over at least for the time being – she could still use her sword and could even wear a shield on the stump of her arm but could no longer use her bow so she left the keep and returned to Caursetti to return to more mundane duties with the Brotherhood and perhaps even retire as a soldier.  A few days later, a female Paladin by the name of Sierra arrived from Caursetti as her replacement.  She was sent by the brotherhood after they heard of the betrayal by the evil clerics in the keep, as it was suspected that this was the work of Evil Acolytes of our arch enemy Ravishar the Undying and holy reinforcements were in order!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Averlorn Campaign - Dungeon Module B2 Of Orcs, Goblins, an Ogre, and a Viking Funeral

Recap from 12-9-2011

The session began with our group having just discovered the trip wire for the net trap in the entry hallway to the third cave on the right side of the box canyon.   We decided to set off the net trap intentionally to set up a trap of our own!  The monk used a grappling hook and a rope and we all stood back at the cave mouth before he pulled the trip wire.  When the net fell, there were all kinds of noisy bells and cans attached to it that made a huge ruckus  and acted as an alarm, and we started screaming like we were trapped in the net and saying things like "Oh god, I'm trapped in the net - help!"

Not surprisingly, a bunch of orcs showed up but we managed to surprise them and Illundria and Ragnar cast sleep and color spray and knocked them out and it was over real fast (about nine orcs went down).  After the brief surprise attack in the entry corridor, we made our way into their lair and their humanoid womenfolk attacked us and we killed them but let the young ones go.  Afterwards, we went down the right hand hallway and an Orc guard sounded the alarm and ran into a room and we followed him.

There we fought with the guard, a few more orcs and the Orc’s tribal leader.  The leader was a big burly orc who could both swing his sword and throw his axe in the same round, and in one round he threw the axe at Viktor wounding him badly and then followed up by landing a powerful blow with his sword and killed him!  (The damage totals for both the axe and sword were a 7 and an 8 - ouch!)  After the battle, the player playing Viktor rolled a 4 on his death and dismemberment roll (from Troll and Flame's Death and Dismemberment Table), and the result was that he lost his arm and bled out despite our attempts to save him - OH THE HUMANITY!!!

So we went back to the keep and buried our Nordic comrade.  We wanted to give him a Viking funeral but unfortunately we were in the hills far away from the ocean and didn't have a boat.  Afterwards, we met up with a new Thugee cleric named Skeorn who was at the keep and looking for adventure.  Once we were ready, we headed back to the caves but on the way, the party had to evade a group of four giant ants by throwing food behind us as we ran.  They were huge (as big as horses) and probably would have killed us all if we hadn't outrun them. 

When we finally made it back to the caves, Rollo suggested that we see what was in the hidden cave behind the foliage on the left side of the valley this time.  It was immediately to the right of the goblin’s cave that we had retreated from the first time we visited the Caves of Chaos, so we figured it may have been another less obvious way into their lair.   We went into the tunnel and into a cave beyond and fought a very large Ogre briefly until Amul pulled his heart out and then took a bite out of it - he succeeded in using his Monk's death blow and killed him in round two with his bare hands!

We searched the Ogre's lair and found some treasure in the first and the room beyond.  There was a secret door in the Ogre's lair beyond the first cave and it opened up into a large room with six goblin guards in it.  They started chucking spears at us after sounding the alarm, and we got into a ranged duel and killed most of them but two ran away to sound the alarm and then another ten showed up.  We traded ranged shots with six of them and engaged four in melee and after the four went down we charged the rest and won the day!  That's where we left it - the goblin lair is now eerily quiet!



Sunday, September 30, 2012

Averlorn Campaign: Dungeon Module B2 The Kobold lair and a Wicked Betrayal

Recap from 11/25/2011

After a bit of carousing at the inn with our newfound wealth, we decided to return to the Caves of Chaos to continue our exploration.  While we were sitting at a table at the inn discussing our plans, we were approached by a cleric of Bast the Cat God who was very interested in our discussions about the caves.  He told us he would like to join our group to help us fight the evil humanoids at the caves along with his two young acolytes for a share of the treasure.  We didn’t really know anything about him so we asked the bartender if we could trust him and he replied that he hadn’t heard anything bad about the priests.  So we agreed to let them join our next foray into the caves, though we still weren’t sure if we could trust him and his acolytes or not.  We set out from the keep once again and travelled down the road heading east and onto the trail in the woods that led to the caves, and made it there without any problems.  We decided to try the next cave on the right side of the box canyon past the orc lair we had previously explored.  There were a few large trees near the entrance and above the cave mouth on the hillside but we didn’t really pay them any notice and proceeded into the tunnel opening.

The new clerics who had joined the group initially offered to stay in the back but since we weren’t sure if we could really trust them, we left Amul the monk and Rollo the dwarf in the rear so they could keep an eye on them.  Once the group had gone a little ways into the tunnel, the characters in the front including Fauna, Ragnar and Viktor, suddenly fell into a pit trap and several characters behind them also fell in and piled in on top of them!  As soon as this happened the adventurers in the rear of the group were attacked by a large group of kobolds that came out from hiding in the adjacent trees that we had noticed on the way in!  To make matters worse, as soon as the kobolds attacked, the three clerics turned on the group and their leader started casting a spell, while the two acolytes started attacking the characters in the middle of the group with their maces!

The group was caught completely off guard by these attacks and we could hear more kobolds approaching the pit from inside the tunnel.  The two characters in the rear fought desperately to fend off the attacking kobolds and were nearly overwhelmed, while the characters in the middle of the party battled the priests.  In the first round of combat, things were looking dicey for the two adventurers in the back as they were caught between the evil priests and the kobolds and fighting for their lives.  Fortunately for the group, Lorinar was able to cast a sleep spell on the melee in the rear of the group and managed to put the kobolds to sleep and Illundria cast Color spray on the priests right in front of her and managed to knock out the priests as well!  As we started helping the wounded characters out of the pit and dispatched our fallen foes, more kobolds came into the tunnel beyond the pit to attack the group!  We managed to get everyone out of the pit while the kobolds beyond threw their spears at us.  We were now faced with a large number of kobolds in the tunnel and it was apparent that the entire lair had been alerted!

Lorinar and Ragnar started throwing flasks of oil at the kobolds across the pit which was followed up by a burning torch from Ragnar and several kobolds went down in the flames, several more were hurt from the splash damage, and a few more were killed by arrows from our archers.  After the initial group of kobolds beyond the pit was dispatched, three more showed up at the end of the hallway and started firing arrows at the group at the edge of the pit.  We exchanged missile fire with them from across the pit for a little while but at this point, Viktor the Thugee fighter had had enough and jumped across the edge of the corner of the pit into the hallway beyond to charge the archers!  At about the same time, more kobolds began streaming into the hallway from beyond the archer’s firing positions at the end of the hallway.  Viktor charged the mass of kobolds and began to wade into them wreaking havoc with his sword as Thugee warriors are known to do from time to time.  He was followed by the ranger and the half orc and they gradually pushed the mass of kobolds back down the hallway killing several of them in the process.  To the rear of the front line group, the spellcasters started throwing burning oil onto the kobolds over our front lines beyond, inflicting even more casualties.  The pitched battle was over in a matter of minutes and afterwards the hallway was littered with burned and dead kobold bodies.

After defeating the Kobolds the group was left standing there in the hallway pondering our next course of action.  We were pretty beat up but assumed that there may be some loot to be had in their lair.  Since we were out of healing spells aside from a few cure light wounds potions, we decided to call it a day and try to make it back to the keep alive and return later for the kobold’s loot.  The group fell back to heal up after collecting a nice suit of plate mail, an ornate mace and a very nice shield from the leader of the evil clerics that looked like they could be magical along with some coinage.

The following day we returned and explored the kobold lair a bit more and found the leader’s chamber in the back of the complex to be occupied by a big burly kobold and his five mates and a brief but deadly melee ensued.  When it was over, we searched the lair and found some treasure but it wasn’t a lot - apparently, these particular kobolds weren't very wealthy.  We continued our exploration and decided to check out the third cave mouth on the right side of the box canyon.  After our recent experience with the pit trap in the kobold lair, we decided to be a bit more cautious this time and had Amul the monk and Rollo the dwarf search ahead of the group in the tunnel for traps.  Sure enough, they found a trip wire that would set off a net trap intended to drop down onto an unwary party and trap them just beyond the tunnel entrance!  At that point it was getting late so we decided to call the session.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Averlorn Campaign: Dungeon Module B2 The Caves of Chaos

Recap from 11/11/2011

After our first near disastrous foray into the Caves of Chaos, we decided to try the caves on the right side of the hill this time rather than the goblin lair on the left.  Shortly after entering the cave we were greeted by a grisly site – there was a hallway filled with niches at about head height in which were placed the skulls of various humans and humanoids in various stages of decay.  One of them was even an orc skull – we found out later it was actually a guard pretending to be dead orc head and keeping watch on the hallway from a watch post on the other side!  Of course he sounded the alarm and we were attacked by a group of 4 orcs that came out of a hallway further into the complex!  To make matters worse, four more orcs appeared out of the right hand corridor to hit us from the right side!  A fierce but brief battle ensued in which most of the orcs were slain but a few were driven back to the left hallway further into their lair.  The group gave chase into a banquet hall and was greeted by more orc warriors streaming out of another passage on the far side of the room to engage us in melee.

The adventurers of the brotherhood held their ground and pelted them with magic missile and bow fire and killed the remaining orcs in the room.  There were two hallways at the opposite end of the room, one of which the other orcs had come from, and we cautiously entered through the hallway on the right and were met by a huge group of orc women and children and another group of male orc warriors!  Their numbers, including the women and young totaled more than 30 orcs and it was clear that we were about to be in for a tough fight as we had stumbled into the main common area of the lair!  Our fighters in the front including Viktor the Thugee fighter, Sulethri the Fighter Cleric, Fauna the Ranger and Rollo the Dwarvish Fighter Cleric foolishly rushed into the room and were quickly surrounded by the mass of orcs!  The women in particular may have been small and weak but they were incensed by the fact that we had killed so many of their male warriors and attacked us with rolling pins, cleavers, clubs, hammers, knives and whatever other weapons they could get their hands on, and even the young that could fight got into the fray.  To make matters worse, the remaining orcs that weren't engaged in melee filed past the pressed front line group and quickly had Amul the Monk, Lorinar the Elvish wizard, Illundria the gnome illusionist and Ragnar the Thugee war wizard backed into the corner fighting for their lives with no fighters to protect them!  The two groups were cut off from each other and the front line group was completely surrounded!

During the fierce melee that ensued, the male orc warriors were the first to go down brought down by our front line group, but then our fighting front started dropping one by one as the enraged orcish women swarmed all around them hurting them one nick and cut at a time with multiple flank and rear attacks.  Meanwhile, in the back the wizards and the monk were unable to cast any spells and were fighting for their lives!  They were fighting desperately with their backs to the wall and gradually retreated towards the hallway where we entered the room from in order to avoid being cut off by the fierce onslaught of the orcish females in the room.  The orcs numbers had been reduced significantly at this point, and they were nearly at half of their original number.  In the main fight in the center of the room, the party members started dropping one by one.  First Viktor the fighter went down, then Fauna the Ranger went down, and then Sulethri until there was but one left standing - Rollo the Dwarven fighter cleric was still soldiering on despite the losses and the odds after having taken a beating.  He managed to take another couple of the females down and at the same time, the wizards and the monk managed to take down a few more as well, though the Thugee war wizard and Illundria the Gnome were both down now as well.

Things were getting desperate and Lorinar and Amul, seeing that there were only three of their number left standing and that there was little hope of rescuing the surrounded Rollo, decided that discretion was the better part of valor and withdrew from the combat while they still could, before they too were surrounded by the vengeful orc females and dragged down.  Meanwhile, Rollo was still battling away and managed to keep on fighting, and the orc’s numbers were below half so they had to make a morale check – and they failed!  The remaining orcs fled the room leaving the triumphant Dwarven warrior alone with a pile of bloody orc bodies and a number of gravely wounded friends strewn around him.  Hearing the route of the orcs behind them, Lorinar and Amul returned to the room to assist Rollo and the rest of their wounded comrades.  We started checking on them to see see if they were still alive and to make the dreaded Death and Dismemberment Table rolls. Amazingly none of them were dead or wounded too badly – Sulethri and Viktor had just been knocked unconscious, Ragnar and Illundria were merely dazed and stunned and Fauna was just bruised and battered and had been knocked off of her feet (we got really lucky on the rolls).  Rollo and Sulethri did what they could to heal everyone’s wounds, and the beaten and battered party of adventurers limped back to the keep at Orcwald to rest and recuperate.

A few days later we returned to the caves and the orc lair and found and defeated their leader, a big burly orc and his two female mates who fought fiercely to protect him but to no avail.  We searched the complex thoroughly and found a small chamber in the back of the leader’s quarters which contained a cache of treasure and weapons and even a number of magic items.  We even found a secret door in the leader’s chamber but the monk couldn’t figure out how to open it, so we left with our loot and decided to take a little break from the caves for a while and enjoy some of our newfound loot at the keep.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Averlorn Campaign: Dungeon Module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands

Recap from 11/4/2011 

The Brotherhood of the Black Crowes had a new mission for our young group of warriors.  Vizier Melkot, the master in charge of affairs of an arcane nature for the Crowes, needed us to escort one of his associates to a keep on the edge of the God King’s realm along the border with the wicked realm of Malithorn.  The Kingdom of Raegeleth on the island of Rhaghaera where the God King reins supreme had been in a near constant state of war with the forces of the Kingdom of Malithorn, part of which was also on the island.  Malithorn was ruled by their evil and most likely undead leader Ravishar the Undying.  For as long as anyone can remember the God King’s country and army has been at war with the minions of Malithorn.  Some of the combatants are humans of Volkyr or Thugee descent but a large percentage of his army is comprised of evil humanoids of various types sworn to serve him.  The last full blown war was merely three years ago, though most of the regular and more recent incursions have been on a much smaller scale.  These incursions usually consisted primarily of small scouting and raiding parties sent forth by both sides to test the strength and gather information about the enemy.  On both sides of the border there are arrayed a number of baronies and dukedoms granted by the two rulers to these petty Dukes and Barons for the sole purpose of guarding their border outposts against incursions by the forces from the other side.

One such border outpost was a rather large fortress or keep and a small town by the name of Orcwald.  Our orders were to escort one Rallemon of Illimus to the outpost and town of Orcwald safely, wait for him to conduct his business there, and then to escort him safely back to Caursetti.  Rallemon was an arcane spellcaster of some sort and he was known to have many enemies, particularly among the forces, assassins and spies of  Malithorn who would like to see him dead.  Therefore, Vizier Melkot explained, it was of the utmost importance that we escort him safely to and from the border outpost in order to protect him from his many enemies.  As we were leaving Caursetti, we had to travel through the Grimward district of town after leaving the Iron Keep of the Brotherhood within the city.  Grimward is a rough neighborhood in Caursetti adjacent to the dock districts.  As we were travelling past the many ships moored along the docks we couldn't help but notice that one of them was a Thugee privateer by the name of the Demon’s Echo and Captained by one Titus Blackwell.  The Demon’s echo was flying a black flag with a skull and flames that day as we walked past her mooring.  It is rumored that the ship and crew are of questionable origins and are thought to be pirates by the common folk.

As we were passing the area where the ship was moored, we were accosted by a rather large group of Thugee sailors that were most definitely crewmen of the Demon’s echo out looking for trouble.  We told them we didn’t want any trouble and tried to warn them off but they attacked us anyway in broad daylight!  We did our best to protect Rallemon, for it was pretty obvious that he was the one they were after, and a fierce battle ensued.  In the end it took a sleep spell to take down the remaining group of pirates that weren't killed in the struggle though several of our comrades were wounded as well.  So with this abortive attempt to leave the city disrupted, we returned to Iron Keep to seek healing for our wounded and to give the brotherhood our captive Thugee pirates to be ransomed back to their people for attacking us and causing an armed altercation in the city of Caursetti.  The proper authorities were also notified about the altercation of course.

So finally, we had all of that taken care of and left town post haste since it was getting late and the fight with the Thugee had delayed our departure.  When we arrived at a travelling Inn in a small hamlet along the way, the innkeeper tried to warn us away by saying he was closed, but we insisted that we were paying customers and soldiers in the service of the God King, and urgently needed accommodations so he let us in.  His mood was improved when we offered to pay him double his customary rates for a stay at the inn.  During the night, we heard a loud noise downstairs and Viktor the Thugee went down to investigate, sword in hand.  It appeared that we had been followed as more Thugee, probably from the ship, were asking to be let in to stay the night.  The Inkeeper was trying to tell them it was too late and they would have to wait until the next day but they were pretty persistent and wouldn't take no for an answer.  When they saw the large Thugee come down the stairs wielding his weapons and ready for battle, they thought better of the idea and left the inn post haste.  We never heard from or saw them again but our guess was these were the enemies of Ralleman that the Vizier had warned us about and were likely spies of Malithorn as well.  So we did our job and kept Rallemon safe.

After another day of journeying along the road, we finally arrived at Dungeon Module B2 the Keep On the Borderlands!  Once there, Rallemon went off to take care of his business and we started investigating our new environs at the keep and the small town of Orcwald.  We immediately went to the tavern and ordered drinks and accommodations and started hearing rumors of a series of Caves nearby called the Caves of Chaos from which no adventurers had ever returned!  This piqued our interest and then we heard another rumor that said “If you get lost, beware the eaters of men”!  This was followed by yet another rumor – “Beware the Mad Hermit!” and yet another rumor that “a magic wand was lost in the caves”.  We were very interested in the caves at this point since we had some time to kill while waiting for Rallemon to take care of his business, so we decided to buy some provisions and adventuring gear and seek out adventure and wealth at the Caves of Chaos!

We followed the well worn trails as best as we could from the descriptions we received from the bartender at the inn and soon enough we entered a box canyon with a multitude of caves at different altitudes all around the canyon.  So we decided to go into the first cave on the left and shortly after we entered, we were greeted by an avalanche of spears and javelins and heard shouts of “Bree Yark”.  This was followed by more shouts to the right of us from another passageway, and it was apparent that we were about to be attacked from two sides simultaneously.  To make matters worse, we heard something very large and angry coming from the direction of the goblins on the right hand side with the goblins urging it on and shouting words of encouragement.  We returned a volley of missiles after a number of our group had been hit and the spellcasters prepared to cast their sleep and color spray spells – but then the rest of the group thought that discretion was the better part of valor and withdrew from the tunnel leaving the wizards standing there all alone to take on the onrushing goblins!  Seeing their protection flee before them the wizards and the illusionist aborted their spell casting and fled as well to avoid being killed or captured by the goblins.

It was apparent that we made the right call to fall back especially with reinforcements coming from the other side to flank us and hem us in.  Had we tried to tough it out in that fight, we probably would have all died so in the end it was the right call.  We returned to the keep having located and ventured into the Caves of Chaos and boasted upon our return that we were the first adventurers to ever return alive from the Caves of Chaos!  Of course once back, we found out that that was really a jest and that plenty of adventurers had in fact returned with loot and stories of all of the evil humanoids that they had had to fight there, though a number of them had not returned.  Based on our recent experience, we were well aware of the dangers, having narrowly escaped the caves inhabitants to fight another day.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Averlorn Campaign - The Island of Farault

Recaps from 10/15/2011 and 10/22/2011

After finishing up Dungeon Module G2 the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl with our high level group, we decided to take a break from the high level game and start out with a new group of characters in a first level game.  This was mostly to get a fresh start since more than half of the players in the last group joined after we had reached around 5th level or so and so didn’t have an opportunity to start their low level characters from scratch.  So once characters were rolled up, we began the game in the gleaming City of Caursetti, Capital of the God King in the Kingdom of Raegeleth which lies in the north of the Archipelago along the western coast of the island of Rhaghaera.  We were all part of an order of monk like warriors called the Brotherhood of the Black Crowes and were basically indentured servants to the order for a period of 20 years.  The Brotherhood was in service to the God King and served as his elite troops in times of war and were based out of a fortress called Iron Keep in the Falconbridge neighborhood of Caursetti, one of the nicer neighborhoods in town.

Vizier Proldier who recruited and trained us, told us our training was complete and that our squad was to report to the office of Hroldave the Vizier for our first assignment.  So the group went over to Hroldave’s office and first he congratulated us on completing our training.  Then he told us the Brotherhood had an important mission for us.  We were to sail to a distant island called the Island of Farault.  There we were to locate a number of very large Thugee Rune stones which were said to have magical properties and make charcoal rubbings of the stones on large sheets of parchment, and bring the rubbings back to the Brotherhood.  He went on further to say that the reason for the mission was that our leader, a Thugee warrior named Grumlor, was sick and some even went as far as to say he was cursed by the gods.  There was said to be potent healing magics contained in the inscriptions on the rune stones which were thought to be able to heal him, and it was of the utmost importance that we return at once with the rubbings once obtained so that a cure could be effected.  He wished us good luck and made sure we were supplied and ready to go and sent us on our way. 

After a boat ride of a week or so, we finally arrived at the island of Farault to look for the stones.  The group consisted of Rollo, a dwarvish fighter/cleric, Sulethri a half orc fighter/cleric, Illundria a gnomish Illusionist and Fauna a human Ranger, Viktor a Thugee Fighter, Amul the Monk, and my character Finolthir the elf (Labyrinth Lord Elf class).  We put ashore in a skiff and noticed that something was following us in the water which looked almost humanoid in shape.  We knew there were Sea Devils about (Sahugin) and even heard tales of Mermen and Mermaids but none of us had ever seen any.  After the boat was pulled ashore they swam away down the shoreline away from us and out of site.  We trudged ashore and found a well worn path running down the center of the small island and chose to go right.  After a ways, we came across a very unusual scene – there was a large group of kobolds coaxing on several very large draft lizards that were pulling several very large rune stones that had been bound and moved onto skids for transport!  This was exactly what we had come to the island to seek and there they were before us.  Even stranger, the kobolds appeared to be lead by a Duergar warrior, one of the evil deep dwarves of legend! 

Seeing our prize at hand we didn’t hesitate and attacked the group in order to secure the stones!  Unfortunately, we lost initiative and the Duergar, who turned out to be a Druid, cast entangle and several of our group was held fast by the vines and plants that quickly sprang forth from the ground to entwine around their arms and legs!  Fortunately, after the initial setback, we finally managed to take down the bulk of the kobolds with a well timed sleep spell.  The Duergar proved to be another matter entirely – he was a stout warrior and led the remaining kobolds in a pitched battle.  A few of our number were hurt badly, and things were looking grim for a time, but the group finally managed to slay the leader and the remaining kobolds including most of the ones that were asleep.  We proceeded to loot the bodies and then took rubbings of the stones to take back to the ship.  We left one kobold alive to question and he told us there was a village down the other end of the path from the direction that we had just come from where we might find more of the rune stones.

We asked him where his group got the stones from initially and he indicated the direction that we were headed on the path, so we led our captive along the trail to the place where the rune stones were originally dug out of the ground.  It appeared that there were still a half dozen or so left but there were still several more, including the ones we had found along the path previously, that had been dug out and relocated recently as evidenced by the freshly shoveled soil.  So we proceeded to make rubbings of these stones and decided to start heading back to the ship since it was nearing the end of the day, since we didn’t want to spend the night on the island due to the dangers.  On the way back we encountered another group of kobolds and our prisoner was killed in the melee but we made it safely back to the ship.

The next session we picked up where we left off but with a slightly different set of characters.  This time we had Amul the Monk, Sulethri the half orc Fighter/Cleric, my Elf Finolthir and a different fighter but Rollo our Dwarven fighter/cleric, Illundria our gnomish illusionist, Viktor the Thugee fighter and our Ranger Fauna were not able to make it to shore due to an illness they had contracted on the island.  We soldiered on despite being short handed.

We returned to the island for the second time and made it to the crossroads of the two paths and went left down the trail this time, since that's where our now deceased Kobold captive said the village was.  This turned out to be a lie of course - we should have expected nothing less from the lying little Kobold worm.  What we found instead were four stone behive shaped huts which actually turned out to be burial structures (like the ones found in Ireland).  On the way there, we were attacked by seven small kobold zombies!  Horror gripped us as we realized that several were likely to be the very same kobolds we had slain only the day before!  We killed a couple and the cleric managed to turn the rest and we pressed on towards the "village" before they returned.  When we got there we found out that it wasn't really a village at all or at least a living village anyway.  We entered the first beehive/hut/tomb and shortly after we went in, the rest of the kobold zombies returned and we had a short but savage melee at the entrance to the place where we managed to slay the rest.  The tomb had been previously looted and contained no treasure.

We went to the second tomb and entered it and surprised a group of two kobolds and another Duergar who turned out to be a cleric this time.  In the chamber with them were some recently opened tombs and the remains of the dead scattered about.  They had clearly just looted the tomb and we managed to surprise them.  We concentrated our attacks on the Duergar since he was the obvious leader, and either Amul or Sulethri rolled a 20 and he was killed pretty quickly.  We then killed one of the kobolds and the other ran away.  Tony told us afterwards that he was a second level cleric and that we were incredibly lucky to have killed him so quickly but our other fighter was badly hurt.

So we went to the third beehive shaped stone tomb and entered and were greeted by a bizarre sight - there was a Dragon Ogre standing on the sarcophagus that was shouting and gesticulating wildly about something in Draconic.  The sarcophagi appeared to be the last missing stone since it had Thugee runes all over it!  Finolthir determined that dragon ogres are extra planar beings, so this thing had somehow been brought to this plane through a gate of some sort, probably by the same method as the Duergar from Nifelheim.  Finolthir attempted to speak to it in Draconic but it was just spouting off gibberish - something about a Loki worshipper (the Duergar) but it was mostly incompressible nonsense.  So we backed up and left the structure to figure out what to do, since it didn't attack us or appear to threaten us except with its insane tirade.  When we started discussing what to do, it came out and attacked us!  So we had another pitched battle and managed to kill it pretty quickly (I think Amul or Sulethri rolled yet another 20).

We gathered up its loot (it had some gold and a few magic items) and made our last rubbing of the rune stone and our mission was completed.  There was one last beehive to investigate, but we decided to quit while we were ahead since we had accomplished our mission and the fighter was hurt (Sulethri failed to cast a healing spell since his Wisdom score was so low he had to roll for spell failure when he cast it).  Rather than just head back at that point, we decided to go back to the island the next day to see what was in the last tomb hoping to find more treasure. 

When we arrived the next day we found it to be sealed meaning the kobolds and dwarves hadn't looted it yet.  We set about opening it up which required removing some rocks and entered.  Unfortunately, there were two ghouls inside (and no treasure!) and a desperate melee ensued.  We managed to kill one but the fighter/cleric failed his turn check and then was paralyzed.  We hurt the other badly but then the fighter was also paralyzed.  Things were looking grim so Finolthir stepped up to try and deliver the killing blow since Elves are immune to Ghoul paralysis, but unfortunately, they aren't immune to claw, claw, bite (three attacks) which resulted in six hit points of damage and he was down and awaiting the dreaded death and dismemberment roll (he only had three hit points to begin with).  So then Amul the Monk backed up into the light and fired his bow and missed.  The ghoul came at him but he retreated outdoors and it didn't follow, but went back to dine on one of its victims which turned out to be the Finolthir so he was now dead.  The other two were still alive though and the Monk went back to the door and in to try and kill it (it was either try or let all three die) and he rolled a 20 to hit it with his bow and managed to kill the last ghoul!

So it went down to the wire but three of the four characters managed to survive.  On the one hand, we probably shouldn't have gone back - our mission was accomplished with minimal casualties and we found some treasure to boot.  On the other hand, we were greedy and thought there would be more treasure there but there wasn't, and one character died but it could have been much worse.  Three twenties rolled by the group helped us to avert disaster in the end and the loss of one first level character was not the end of the world – I rolled up a new Elf wizard to replace him for the next session.