The Keep on Yeoldelands – Session 63

Click here for the other sessions.

Expedition 48j

23 Mar 2023

  • Alfredward (Dwarf 4)
  • Koko (Cleric 5)
  • Konrad (Cleric 1)
  • Mandras Stonefist (Dwarf 3) in absentia
  • Rod (Fighter 1)

When Mandras came running back through the secret passage and described the draconic presence he’d fled from, the party retraced their steps to find their wild-haired allies still cheerily downing copious quantities of fermented fish beer. After explaining to the eager King Derywinki III that they’d found the dragon, they then led the frothing remnants of this underground ‘kingdom’ to the narrow passage towards the charred room, sending Konrad and Mandras round to the secret passage to spring a rear attack. An attack came to the rear of their own lines as they squeezed through the narrow passage, but the adventurers pressed on, trusting to the wild hairs at the back to deal with it.

After convincing Derywinki not to charge ahead and throw away the initiative, the party edged forward, forming up in the wider tunnel, when they were greeted by the sounds of roaring coming from behind them. Disconcerted when nothing immediately popped into view, they continued forward. When a deep voice greeted them from beyond the reach of their torchlight, they charged forward with weapons raised as Konrad and Mandras burst from the secret passage.

A wave of fire washed over the main crowd, turning the unfortunate Rod into charcoal and frying the last of Koko’s retainers, one dog and Derywinki’s subjects. The remaining adventurers surged around the dragon, struggling to get through its scaled hide as it flailed around with its clawed limbs. Alfredward, veteran of so many expeditions, died when its jaw closed around him, and the rescued dwarf Greth soon followed. Derywinki was also dispatched, and Konrad grievously wounded.

Finally, however, their attritional attacks overwhelmed the creature, and Mandras brought it down with a final hefty blow, beheading it. All that remained of the small army that had assailed the ruined monastery above were Mandras, Koko, an injured Konrad, the ever-sturdy retainer Hats and the rescued thief Cullen, also wounded. And the two retainers bearing Rarder’s body, who had somehow managed to avoid all the excitement.

Their attention turned to the pile of coins and gems the dragon left behind. With so few able to carry much, and several magical items from their fallen comrades now bereft of owners, they juggled their equipment as best they could to take back as much of value as they could. Fortunately, a ring was discovered which, when covered in fresh blood, would levitate the wearer for half an hour, so they slid it over Alf’s finger and trudged wearily along a long tunnel which finally led them into daylight.

Propping Alf up against the tunnel wall, they braved the journey down south, fortunately finding their way back to Redwood Keep without coming across any hostiles. While most of them flopped down onto whatever beds they could find, Konrad gritted his teeth through the pain and led a small band of mercenaries back to Alf’s body and took it back home. With two of their most experienced members now lying dead on two bunks and much of their followers feeding whatever remained back in the dungeon, but also considerably richer, thoughts turned to looking for a powerful enough cleric who might be able to perform a resurrection or two.

GM Notes

  • Mandras’ player was away this week but bravely offered him up for others to use during the session.
  • Rather than try and keep track of who played what proportion of a part in exploring this dungeon, I’d decided fairly early on to just let every player who’d participated at some point have 25% of the treasure XP. While this did take the total XP earned to over 100%, it saved time and is a simple ruling to remember for next time. And the time saved was valuable because…
  • This was our first real session of Dungeons & Dragons & Accounting. With such a significant treasure hoard and so few surviving characters to carry it away, we spent the second half of the session painstakingly divying everything up so as to leave behind as little of value as possible. With one player in their second session of OSE, it wasn’t ideal… They still ended up leaving a pile of 2000 gold pieces by the dragon’s corpse. This is when the inventory slot system starts bulging at the seams, especially online when everyone has separate character sheet documents – it can be quite tricky to keep track of who has what when everything is passing to and fro. It still keeps the importance of player decision-making at the forefront, but not a lot of adventuring happens. If this had all be happening in person I think I would have leaned into the tactile nature of it, writing things on slips of paper which could then be passed between characters, and it’s probably worth trying to replicate that next time there’s such a big haul. Perhaps creating a specific slide, pasting images of everyone’s inventory around the outside and then having separate text boxes for each slot’s worth of treasure. I still prefer the slot system to other mechanical ways of working out carrying capacity – it strikes the right levels of granularity and player agency in day-to-day adventuring, and just needs a bit more thought beforehand come the next treasure trove. Or the players just need to keep more retainers alive.
  • I was perhaps too lenient on some rulings during much of the delve, however. While it did have a high bodycount by the end, in future I will refrain from allowing characters to level up when not safely resting in some civilised shelter. There were enough monsters for a few level ups, and it seemed to detract from the sense of urgency to escape. Likewise I will have to pay more attention to the retainers of fallen characters – in hindsight, it was remarkably easy for the party to get Rarder’s corpse out. I’d originally ruled that his two retainers fade into the background carrying his body to make things simpler when the party first fell down the hole, but it granted them immunity to any consequence. I’m sure they wouldn’t have survived the dragon’s initial flame breath attack, for instance!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s