The Keep on Yeoldelands – Session 11

Click here for the other sessions.

Expeditions 14 and 15

26 Aug 2021

  • Crane (Magic User 1)
  • Gorash Mightfist (Fighter 1)
  • Oswick Bronzebumble (Halfling 1)
  • Rarder Brete (Fighter 3)
  • Shay Longladdle (Magic User 1)
  • Yello (Thief 1)

    And later joined by:
  • Amos (Cleric 1)
  • Dalgarn (Dwarf 1)
  • Gregory (Fighter 1)
  • Harry (Halfling 1)
  • Rozza (Magic User 1)

Assembling their largest party yet, totalling eight when factoring in their dwarf and cleric retainers, the adventurers felt bold enough to tackle Redwood Castle itself rather than the tunnels beneath it. They took the trip upriver, the heavy rain still ongoing, and made camp just south of the site. The weather cleared up overnight and they sailed up as day broke.

They approached the western wall where they had seen several feline-headed ambushers last expedition. They flung over a grappling hook and started ascending over the battlements. Alas, there was a gap between the parapets and the keep itself, and from one window a pair of the cat-like archers appeared and let loose several arrows. The heavily armoured Gorash fell, dropping the magical sword, Conciencia.

Oswick grabbed her from the ground and, with Rarder, dashed along the wall to get to one of the keep’s windows and were met by three more of the creatures charging out. The halfling, having also taken damage from the volley, was cut down. The fighter was soon backed up by the hired Hats and Artzua and started cutting the creatures down and pushing them back.

Crane, Shay and Yello had opted to remain on the ground at a breach in the wall to hurl missile fire at the two archers. They killed off one before they noticed a robed individual appear at the window of the keep’s top floor. He appeared to be getting more and more irate at the failure of the feline creatures to repel the attackers and started conjuring a spell. Shay whipped a sling stone towards him but the missile bounced off an invisible barrier. The trio’s collective stomachs dropped before they were engulfed in a great ball of fire.

And one of them was so close to level 2…

The last surviving adventurer and two retainers decided to flee, risking the twenty-foot drop for the sake of speed. They were able to escape their assailants and skirt around the castle walls to the charred remains of their companions. Unfortunately, the magical flames had destroyed most of their belongings including the Ring of Water Walking, the Scroll of Commune and Crane’s mysterious translucent ball & spellbook. Tucking away Shay’s spellbook and the Scroll of Cure Serious Wounds, the tattered remnants of the party returned to Redwood.

Assembling a collection of fresh adventurers, Rarder led another expedition to scout the castle out a bit more. Their trip was interrupted first by a massive fish rolling around the wreckage of a vessel in the middle of the river, and then at night when a huge beast circled over head blotting out the stars. On both occasions the group kept their heads down and edged away from danger.

Opting this time to explore the tower’s basement, the adventurers descended down and down the spiral steps, eventually coming to a cold rock tunnel barred by a door. Pushing it open they were confronted by a gaggle of walking skeletons and corpses. Armed with assorted magical weapons, shields and prayers, the party surged through and hacked the undead down.

Their activity seemed to trigger a familiar round of moaning, manic laughter and rattling chains. Holding Conciencia aloft, Amos detected a rune in the wall which Rozza recognised as one which might emit a noise upon being triggered. The cleric dragged the sword across the rune and the sound stopped instantly.

Deciding that decent enough information had been obtained to merit the trip a success, the party retreated to the surface and back downriver to Redwood.

GM Notes

  • This was a session in which rolling combat dice in the open kept me honest. Gorash and Oswick both had hefty ACs and yet I kept hitting them, and the fireball spell did enough damage that a successful save wouldn’t have been enough for the targets to even have a chance of surviving, even with the inventory slot injury system. I’m a big enough softie to have declared a few more misses or a smaller amount of fire damage. The stories I’ve read of other RPGers recounting playing or running this keep had noted that this area had claimed quite a few characters, so I knew it was dangerous, and I definitely wouldn’t want as a player to have a character survive out of charity, but I still needed the public dice rolls to stop me shirking the responsibility of actioning the consequences of risk-taking.
  • This is the second time the party have decided upon a frontal assault on a loosely-scouted area, and on both occasions the injured Rarder has been the lone PC survivor. Truly OSE is not the ruleset for those wanting a simple kick-down-doors-and-slay-nasties game experience.
  • I’m really struggling to remember to apply ranged-based bonuses and penalties on missile to-hit rolls – the players apply them when they remember, but I’m constantly dropping the ball for the monsters (and just happened to have quite a run of very high rolls this session to kill two very well-armoured characters). Were I to start a new OSE campaign, I suspect I’d do away with these – or at least reduce the granularity by tying ranges to the weapon tags (two-handed, thrown, etc) rather than having a separate set for each weapon.
  • We did in theory have a caller in operation for this session. I’d played in a game a week or so before with one and felt a bit more comfortable trying a larger group. Turned out that the session didn’t really need one – the assault on the castle took up most of the gameplay time with the players having discussed most of their plans before the start of play. Will be game to try it again.

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