Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Worst...

Okay... the worst adventure...

Now, I'll preface this with something:
I've worked with the author of this adventure module, Lenard Lakofka. He's a really great guy, and it was a pleasure to work with him. He even put Caroline and I into his latest module because I did a LOT of work for him to transcribe an old magazine article he'd written about creating magic items, for which he only had fuzzy pictures of the pages. I bear no ill will towards Mr. Lakofka, and what follows is simply what a bunch of 15 year olds thought at the time, and I know now that our problems with the module were our own fault. :)

That said, Steve had bought this new adventure module and he wanted to play though it as soon as possible. He and Francis and I planned the whole thing out. We'd go over to Steve's on Saturday night, and we'd just play all night, getting through the whole adventure, no matter how long it took. We figured we'd be up until 6am playing, but that was cool with us. We'd order pizza, and drink pop and completely over-sugar ourselves in the processes, but we'd do it.

So, Francis and I show up, and Steve shows us the module...

"Cool! The last module with 'Secret' in the title was awesome!" I'm sure we thought at the time. Hoo Hooooo... wow... okay, I won't spoil anything yet.

So, we sat down, and started to play. There's a bunch of stuff in the town of Restenford in the module, but we went directly for the tower on Bone Hill, looking to get right into the action. We found the entrance to the dungeon under the tower and started exploring.

My memory of the module isn't perfect, but here's what I recall...

We found one room that had a statue of a winged woman, poised with a sword lifted above her head, set to strike. It had a helmet on that wasn't part of the statue, so Francis had Merlin go up and try to take the helmet. When he touched it, the statue struck him with the sword! He figured that he'd set off the trap, so he tried it again, and again, the statue struck him! Damn! Alron had a lot more hit points, so he went up to try. He reached out, took the helmet off the statue, with no attack! Cool! I rocked! ;D

The helmet gave Alron the ability of True Sight, I believe. I'm not sure if Steve gave him the full ability of it, or just something lesser. It was still cool, either way.

There was another room with a mirror, and if your reflection was cast by it, you were drawn into it, where you had to fight yourself. A Mirror of Opposition! I think Merlin had to fight himself... or maybe it was Chuck. I remember the rest of us wondering if we could go in and help him, but figured we'd probably just have to end up facing ourselves, alone, so we didn't try. Whoever went in obviously won (or maybe the Mirror version took his place! *gasp*), and we moved on.

Next we found this Beholder-looking thing, called a Spectator. It's a spherical creature, with four eye-stalks on the top, a large central eye in front, and a toothy maw underneath. It told us it was guarding a book, that was behind it. There was a bunch of other treasure lying there, and it told us we could have it, as long as we didn't touch the book. If we tried to take the book, it would have to attack us. Not knowing what it could do to us, we decided to leave the book be, and took the other stuff.

Then we hit the room that caused the problem. We opened a door and looked in, to find what looked to be a study. There was a bookshelf, a desk with a chair, and a skeleton chained to the back wall. Curious, we entered, and everyone that stepped across the threshold had to roll a saving throw. For those not-in-the-know, a saving throw is a twenty-sided die roll, and you had to roll high... higher than a specific number laid out by your class and level... this particular one was likely versus Spells. Anyone who failed was charmed. They would walk into the room, pick up a book and sit down to read, or sit at the desk and write something, or lie down and go to sleep. They would show no desire to leave, and would fight to stay in the room.

The only three characters that made their saving throw were Aubry, Merlin, and Chuck. We tried to get people out of the room, and found out first hand about the "would fight" part. The skeleton was animated... it had eyeballs and a tongue, but it couldn't actually talk to us... it could just roll its eyes and move its mouth as if it was trying to talk... which made it very difficult. We got it down to a "yes or no answer" situation and got what little information out of it that we could... it pointed to the fact that there was a wizard in this tower, and maybe we could get him to cast the necessary spell to break the charm.

So, our three characters headed out, finding the staircase up into the tower, and found a room with some bugbears in it. We expected a fight, but they just asked us what we wanted. We mentioned the wizard, and they pointed up. Shrugging, we proceeded up.

I never asked Steve at the time, but I think he was probably just being lenient with us. A bard, a monk and a magicuser probably wouldn't have done very well against the bugbears in the room.

Reaching the top of the tower, we found the wizard's laboratory. He was less cooperative than his subordinates downstairs, and we had a fight on our hands. We tipped over some tables as cover against his spells, and you know, to be honest, I have no idea how we beat him. It was probably a combination of Merlin's spells and Chuck kicking the crap outa him. Bards could fight pretty well, but I don't remember having a big role in his defeat.

The thing is... we killed him... a little short-sighted on our part, since we needed him to cast the spell. Oops.

Oh well, we had Merlin with us, so we looked through his spellbook... he had Dispel Magic in the book, which was good, but here's the kicker... and the problem with the module...

- The module is written for characters level 2-4

- Dispel Magic is a third level spell.

- In order to cast a third level spell, your magicuser has to be 5th level.

Merlin was 4th level, and was not even close to 5th level.

So, everyone who'd been charmed was now stuck in that room, permanently. Oops.

After all of that, we'd had enough. I think it was only around midnight or 1am. We were frustrated, angry, and we'd just wasted what we thought was going to be a very cool night of gaming. Steve just told us that it was all a dream. We all woke up on an empty hilltop, with all the stuff we'd gotten in the adventure, and then we went to sleep.

After that, Steve didn't buy adventure modules anymore. He made up all the adventures himself.

1 comment:

  1. I know that experience from running a module right away without really reading it through first, and get a lot of the stuff wrong to the point that all 'was just a dream'... before ever knowing what a 'deus ex machina' was ;)