Topic: Play report: The Holy Symbol of Claudio
Hello everyone! I'm new to Lotfp, and am just coming back to rpgs after a very hiatus. I got a group of people together and last night we played through the first half of an adventure I prepared, which I am calling "The Holy Symbol of Claudio". Here's how it went.
We had a few more players than I was expecting, and ended up with two fighters, two specialists, a cleric and magic-user. The party started in the Duchy of Alioth, with me asking the players as part of their character creation to choose how their character had sinned against the Church of Claudio. These six found themselves in the lockup underneath the Church of Claudio, and the head cleric informed them what was to be their penance: they had to travel three days north to a pilgrim's shrine wearing blank shingles around their necks, where they would get the shingles stamped with the shrine's holy symbol. On arriving, they found the hermit who ran the shrine, and who had lived there her whole life, very upset, because the most important holy item at the shrine, which had been whittled by her father who founded the shrine, had been stolen. This was of course the stamp the players needed to stamp their shingles and repair their reputations with the Church. There was a bit of discussion along the lines of "why don't we just leave," but in the end, and with the added incentive of being paid by the hermit, the party agreed to follow the weird tracks left by the thieves and try to recover the holy symbol.
Some tracks led north into the forest, odd tracks that looked like they belonged to a barefooted human but were misaligned, sometimes getting closer, sometimes wider, sometimes crookeder and sometimes straighter. The magic-user made an architecture check to realize that the path they were on had been a fine, wide road a long time ago. After half a day they came to the end of the road, and found a large door in a hill, and the weird tracks led inside. The players were a mix of never-played-any-rpgs, never-played-any-old-school-rpgs, and hadn't-played-any-rpgs-in-a-long-time, and I had tried to plant a number of hints in this area that searching their environment carefully was always a good idea. There were a bunch of brambles, which they did search under and find a cart which had recently been hidden there, and they investigated a well-like structure up the face of the hill that they discovered was a skylight looking down. The huge stone door was open just six inches, and stuck really firmly--a first round of open door attempts by everyone failed--which they interpreted to mean that whatever had left the tracks was very strong. They spent the night in a dilapidated stone hut full of broken scales and balances and the night passed uneventfully. (I had rolled a bunch of wandering monster dice by this point, and a few players were starting to ask what all that rolling was.) They wanted to try opening the door again, and I allowed it now that they had rested, but since a bunch of them had rolled sixes I also secretly decided that if they all failed this time the door would be permanently stuck and they'd have to find another way inside. (There were a few possible ways.) But this time the specialist who had put his skill into "open doors" and who also had a strength bonus forced it open a few more inches until everyone could fit inside.
Here we began the dungeon crawl. It went smoothly, no wandering monsters for the first few rooms, although in one room, which I described as being home to lots of mice, the magic-user decided he wanted a pet mouse. I let him "attack" to catch one and he rolled an 18, so yeah, congratulations on your new pet mouse. The first encounter with a wandering monster happened in this (huge and dark) room, at the same time as the players noticed a flicker of firelight from the back corner. I rolled that the encounter was with two "helflings", who I guess there's no harm in revealing here are part of the band that stole the holy symbol. They're sort of the equivalent to goblins in this setting, and they look like humans except bisected vertically: one leg, one arm, half a face, etc. I had written that they would be extremely timid on this level, and when the players approached with a torch, calling out to them, they hopped away down the hall. The players never really got a good look at the helflings -- I described them as very skinny and not quite human -- and decided to check out the firelight before following.
In the corner, through a smashed secret door, were two terrified humans huddled around a small fire. They claimed to have come here with two friends, who had gone deeper into the complex two days ago and not returned. The players were totally willing to make friends with these two, even though they are pretty obviously bandits of some sort. The bandits (Petra and Klos) said they had heard rumors of treasure in this place, but were now regretting coming. When they hadn't found anything on this floor, their leader and his sister had explored a bit further ahead and discovered a staircase going down. They never came back.
Petra and Klos agreed to journey ahead with the party. In the next area was a long hallway with tapestries, behind which one of the specialists found a secret door. Behind it was a strange little complex of sleeping chambers, each of which contained a moldering undead corpse who charged at the party as soon as the door was open... Our first battle happened here, with the players opening the doors one at a time, and doing quite well against the zombies, until the zombies started opening the doors themselves. (The players still did really well. There were a lot of them, and not very many zombies. They were very curious about what the zombies were doing there, and why there was a fancy goblet in each chamber. Could be they'll learn more about these "potion zombies" later...)
Out in the hall they heard a shriek from the bandits, and found that the sounds of fighting had attracted another group of monsters: four huge cockroaches. They went down pretty easy, though the cleric rolled a 1 while attacking, so that was exciting. The last cockroach fled, and the party had a choice to follow it, or to explore the other way. They decided to follow, and went down a staircase into an area that had subsided, where the original stone complex joined up to a natural cave system. The party found a hall full of huge spider webs, which the specialist promptly set fire too, and a handful of angry and somewhat burned giant spiders came running out. Another nice battle happened here. It was about time to call it a night, so I finished when the players started to explore the other side of the huge, sloping cavern they found themselves in. At the far side was a large wicker pen, full of things moving around, and two helflings staring at the party from the shadows. I described the helflings fully for the first time, and we ended the session.
We had a lot of fun. It took me about half the session to get the rhythm right, but eventually we got smoothed out, and everyone is eager to see what happens next time (hopefully next week.) The large number of players meant that the combats were pretty easy, but for an introductory session I was totally fine with that. This first adventure was also admittedly a bit railroaded, but if we keep playing things will open up a great deal.
Thanks, everyone, for this great community based around Loftp!