The Keep on Yeoldelands – Session 4

Click here for the other sessions.

Another start in media res after the successful timekeeping of the last session. It didn’t seem to faze the first-time player, so for the time being I think we’ll be sticking to launching our games from the point of the party setting forth from the keep, using the journey as a chance to flashback to any particular planning and prep they may have done. The double page spread of map and notes for the keep will be taking a back seat for a little while.

Expedition 4

8 July 2021

  • Emmett Vannes (Thief 1)
  • Kaiden of the DISAVOWED (Cleric 1)
  • Rarder Brete (Fighter 1)

After a few days of recuperation the party set forth for the caves, mindful of both the missing merchant and the unexplored tunnels they’d glimpsed. They hired Luxia from a band of mercenaries to accompany them, nominally to hold a torch aloft but with the promise of a portion of the bounty and the loan of some chainmail were she to get alongside them in a fight. They also conversed with an elf looking to explore an ancestral tower, but were unable to convince them to come along.

Once again finding their way through the Darkwoods to the valley without issue, they crept into the same cave opening as last time, this time with a thin plume of smoke rising from it. This time Emmett slunk past the narrower tunnel section in the dark for a bit of scouting. Spotting a group of the hairy creatures crowded around a fire and spit, a human corpse roasting away, the party retreated back to the entrance while Emmett drew the inhabitants out. As the first few emerged after him into the daylight, Kaiden and Luxia pulled taut a shin-high rope to send them sprawling. The adventurers fell upon them and slaughtered them, sending the last few shrieking back into the caves.

They spent a bit of time catching their breath and hacking off some more hairy hands for the 30gp bounty, before noticing that the great, obese beast from further into the valley had emerged and was waiting just below them, club in hand. When it failed to respond friendlily to their hails, they returned to the hairy creatures’ cave, only to find a large number of them in the way, jabbing spears and trying to scare the adventures back outside.

Unwilling to face the larger figure, they flung burning oil upon the hairy ones and charged, using the narrow tunnel to offset their enemies’ greater numbers. After hacking and slashing away, Kaiden took a blow and allowed Rarder to take his place at the front, but the second rank afforded no safety from a poorly-shot arrow from Emmett and Kaiden perished with a missile through the neck.

I cannot yet do hatching. Or bowstrings, apparently…

Despite this, with the large figure of flesh and body odour clambering up to stand outside the cave entrance, the party forced their way through the hirsute beings, cutting them down as they fled. Finding themselves in the room with the fire and spit, the searched for clues to the roasted human’s identity. A rusted helmet with the initials W.K. inscribed within and a box filled containing some jewellery and tobacco was all they could find.

There was also a light trail of a few coins leading to a hanging piece of cloth which covered a way to a foul-smelling passage. Judging it to be the home of the creature outside, they party left it well alone and instead, after de-handing the remaining corpses, brought the still smoking human body outside and offered it to the beast standing outside. After a moment’s umming and ahhing, it held the spit like a kebab and bit a chunk out of the body, motioning the adventurers past with a non-too-subtle “shhhhh”. As they gratefully slipped past they noticed a large, jingly bag hanging from a crude belt.

Upon returning to the keep, the party claimed their bounty of 360 pieces of gold for the hands and sold off WK’s treasures. Luxia stepped up and claimed Kaiden’s full share for her part in the fighting. They learned from the corporal at the keep gate that an adventurer named Wislot Korn had been part of a group of six who had set off for the valley. None had been seen since. The party made note of this and retired to the tavern, eager to sleep in comfort at last.

GM Notes

  • First time adventuring with just three PCs, which prompted the players to look for at least one hire-able pair of hands. I’d put together an Inspiration Pad Pro generator to work out who might be available, and had intended to stick with the by-the-book rules of hiring help but felt a flustering come on so we winged (wang? wung?) it according to reaction rolls. May need to refresh my memory of hiring section of OSE just in case I’m making it too easy or hard.
  • I find myself getting in a muddle when it comes to morale rolls, not so much when to do them but in the heat of the moment it’s whether rolling high is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Do they flee if it’s higher or lower? If it’s equal?
    It shouldn’t be this hard to remember – it’s essentially an ability check with 2d6, but knowing there is a mixture of roll unders and overs in OSE and BX D&D makes me hesitate and overthink things.
  • I’ve largely ignored ability checks to try and go with the granular-but-simple x-in-6 rolls (which also helps divide roll unders and overs between d20s and d6s). Most activities, if a roll is required, is a 2-in-6 chance unless there’s a very good reason that it should be otherwise. One such reason might be if the PC has a bonus or penalty in an especially relevant ability.
    This session we had the PCs trying to find their way to the caves with a map. 2-in-6 as a standard roll. It would be 1-in-6 without a map. +1 to the x-in-6 for each trek to the caves the character has done before to account for increasing familiarity. After a few expeditions there’ll be no need to roll, but it allows for noteworthy progress beyond XP for low-level characters.

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