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Mazes, Martians, Mead

[Labyrinth Lord] Campaign on the Borderlands – Session 1

B2ModuleCoverLately I played the first session of what hopefully will be more in a new Labyrinth Lord game. The players were all from work, although I don’t think I talked to them before we got together. Someone asked for a GM for a Polish language RPG on our company-internal board game list, and I followed that up with the question if somebody wanted to play in English. In the end instead of a Polish language game it ended up an English language one with me as the GM. That was a bit odd.

We decided to go for D&D like fantasy, and so I decided to dust off my Labyrinth Lord materials. I recently had been working more on my private set of house rules, but that one was far from ready, and Labyrinth Lord has free versions available after all.

As most of the people were beginners I decided to go very, very basic: we are currently playing B2 Keep on the Borderlands in the World of Greyhawk. I decided to add some stuff from various places to B2 (including the map of the Castellan’s Keep from Dyson), and after trying and failing to situate the Keep in the Yeomanry like Return to the Keep of Borderlands proposes (who the hell put that location in there, it doesn’t make any sense!), it now is set right next to it, just at the border to the Hool Marshes and the Dreadwood. Anna B. Meyer located the Viscounty of Eor from I2 there, and I actually like it. in my campaign it’s a half-forgotten part of Keoland barely kept alive by the trade routes to the Yeomanry and the Hold of the Sea Princes.

Campaign Date: 11th of Goodmonth, 576 C.Y.

The situation: 

Kendall Keep is situated in the Viscounty of Eor, south of the Dreadwood, and West of the Hool Marshes. The Kingdom of Keoland would have given up on these lands centuries ago already, but for the trade with the lands of the Yeomanry, and the Hold of the Sea Princes in the South. It is far from the heartland of the kingdom, in what can only be described as Borderlands, an old and slightly dilapidated fortress that still looks rather impressive. Lately reports have indicated that this is a place where fame and fortune can be found. 

Adventure 1: 

The adventurers arrived at Kendall Keep.

The characters were

  • Fenrigar: an adherent to the old faith, looking for his heritage
  • Trevor: a half-naked warrior of unknown whereabouts
  • Burmark: a fighting-man
  • Shanar: a dark and mysterious person of dubious character
  • Rickhort: a dwarvish man of axe and book, looking for revenge
  • Mortimer: a gnome of the wilderness

After a short interview at the gate they were granted entrance. They decided to go to the fountain square as they heard there was a tavern there, and they found the notice board there. Their eyes were drawn to the notice that due to raids on the north road there was a bounty on goblins, and a note regarding expeditions by someone called Jules.

Jules turned out to be not actually a patron, but rather a hopeful but hopeless youth who wanted to go for gold and glory. He was promptly hired as a mule/torchbearer.

Some rumors were collected during their stay in the tavern:

  • A powerful magic-user will destroy all cave invaders.
  • Tribes of different creatures live in different caves.
  • Lizard-men live in the marshes
  • An elf once disappeared across the marshes.
  • All of the cave entrances are trapped.
  • “Bree-yark” is goblin-language for “we surrender”!

Soon enough they decided to go to the “Caves of Chaos” Jules mentioned to hunt for goblins, but as they didn’t know where it was they got rough directions from the (drunk) Captain of the Watch. According to him you had to follow the road until you came to a tower which isn’t always there and then turn left into the woods. 

They set of almost immediately, which resulted in them arriving in those woods at nightfall. 

They found a burned out wagon in the woods (presumably from the merchants that were robbed), and the ranger and the assassin decided to follow the tracks together.

The two of them tracked down the caves by nightfall. They were situated in a ravine full of ruins and trees. The assassin went back to get the others, while the gnome ranger decided to do some advanced scouting while waiting for the others and entered one of the caves on the right of the ravine.

Here he was greeted with the sight of a wall decorated by heads in various degrees of decay, but he ventured on regardless. Soon enough there was movement behind him as he had been spotted entering. He hid behind the tables in a meeting hall, but now had to deal with guards at the front who were not sure what exactly they had noticed.

He tried to move around a bit but noticed that all other directions had opponents as well, so moved towards the door, and snuck up on the guard. In the end he attacked the guard once he turned around. 

There was some clamor as he started the fight and the other guards were alerted and began rushing from the back. 

This attracted the attention of the others that had arrived earlier, and they ran to rescue the gnome. A quick entangle spell by the druid managed to get a hold of the first few orcs, and Shanar tried to parlay, but Rickhort pressed on with the attack. Soon two of the orcs were dead, and others were rushing out, throwing spears but missing. Obviously the sudden attack had surprised them. The dwarf attacked them and slaughtered them, causing the others to fall back.

It was roughly at this point that the characters figured out that they were attacking orcs instead of goblins, and were not actually paid to do this. Rickhort decided it didn’t matter and proceeded to attack. 

Shanar used that time to force one of the entangled orcs to divulge the location of the goblins, and got told it was the lowest one on the other side of the ravine. 

They decided to abscond, but did take the time to get some of the ears from orcs as trophies.

In the ravine they discussed if it was better to run away or just go straight into the goblin cave, as this was a course the orcs would not expect. In the end they noticed that the orcs from the first cave were amassing more help from another cave and decided to flee into the woods. 

The next morning they found themselves lost in the woods, but the Fenrigar asked a bird for directions to that big stone thing where there were people on, and got it (it was just a mile away at this point).

There was the feeling that someone was watching them at this time, but they couldn’t notice any more. 

Considering they were after roughly a day of adventuring and without rest they decided to have a break in the keep.

 

Adventure 2:

After a short while they had rested and healed (only the ranger was actually hurt), and they decided to go back to the caves. The orcs on the right side now had guards placed outside the entrance, but the goblin cave was undefended.

A quick trip in there soon brought them into conflict with the goblins therein. Soon enough they ran into a group of Goblins that shouted Bree-Yark! And attacked. Two of them went to the back, opened a secret door, and threw something in. 

The heroes killed the goblins quickly, but by this point something huge came out of the secret door. The Ogre took on the heroes, but also did not last more than a few bouts, which was long enough to have a second group of goblins arrive from the direction of the entrance. When these were attacked and falling back yet another group of goblins arrived from deeper in the cave. Jules the dishwasher got sent to scout out what was behind the secret door, and noticed that there was daylight shining in. In the meantime the second wave of goblins was massacred, and after some losses the third group of goblins also escaped further down the cave.

This is where it is at right now.

 

Summary

It went pretty well. I haven’t really run a game in Labyrinth Lord in a while, but for that it was pretty ok.

Most of the players knew the tropes already. All of them played computer games before after all (they do work in IT), and most of them even played stuff like Baldur’s Gate. So even the descending AC wasn’t too much of a new thing. What they balked at was race-as-class though. That one didn’t fly at all with them, and was the main reason why I used the Advanced Edition Companion from the beginning.

Stuff I need to do:

  • make sure all the characters have something to do, the assassin wanted to do stuff, but I didn’t have things to do for her
  • I need to check the combat rules. It was way too easy for them right now. They slaughtered the goblins. I think my use of the Cleave rule might have had something to do with that. In any case I need to check what happens if you charge into spears because the dwarf kept charging.
  • I wanted to add B1 as an additional Dungeon at the Cave of the Unknown, but I want to use the maps from Dyson. It doesn’t fit there, at all. So B1 will be located a bit beyond the B2 map. The Cave of the Unknown will be the Tomb of the Serpent Kings instead I think. I also want to add B5 as an additional location just beyond the fens. There might be a larger threat there, a hobgoblin army trying to vie for control of the surrounding human-held areas. Oh, and the lizardmen from I2 crawling around somewhere as well
  • I definitely need to bring miniatures or tokens or something next time. It was a bit of a problem keeping track of all those fights they had on pieces of paper.
  • I also need to enforce the whole “end the adventure in a safe place” rule I want much better. I so predict that the next session comes around and one or two people will be missing

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