Is that a dagger in your pocket, or are you Happy to see me?

Dear Knights of the Dinner Table,

I’d always read the stories from your readers, but I never thought they would happen to me….

Sunday we returned to the Old Skool stylings of the Basic D&D game, to finish up the adventure of The Haunted Keep, and things took a fairly grim turn.

The party found another room of bandits, these busy racing cockroaches, and managed to dispatch them, losing Obediah the Elf (Dan’s character) in the process. During the fight, Steve the Magic User (played by Mike) Charmed one of the bandits, and after the fight their new best buddy explained the layout of the half of the keep they were in, and how to bypass Sir Reonald and the room with the stirges by going outside and re-entering through a different exterior door.

The party did so, and easily found the merchant’s daughter they’d been searching for, Lemunda the Lovely. Before they could declare victory and go home, she inquired whether they had rescued her maid, Relda, and two man-servants. The maid was merely in the kitchen opposite, but there things took an ugly turn. When the party showed up, she called for help from Reonald, whereupon Happy Brandybuck the Halfling (suspicious that she was being allowed to cook for the bandits) stabbed her, killing her instantly. This caused Lemunda to start screaming, so they grabbed her and ran, abandoning the missing man-servants. Surprisingly to the GM, Happy didn’t bother to loot the body of the maid, who actually was carrying a gem worth 500 gp that she was planning to use to bribe them to let Reonald escape. They returned Lemunda to the town, where she promptly sought refuge with the town authorities and far away from the homicidal rescue party.

Although the end of the adventure was a bit of a downer, there was much hilarity…partially over how the Bumblers lived up to their reputation, partially over the homicidal hobbit’s pre-murder slip of the tongue (something about raking the maid with his “steely Halfling glaze”) and what this might imply about hobbit culture and culinary habits in this setting.

It was interesting, and somewhat bizarre, running an adventure from a module. Believe it or not it’s something that I haven’t really done before; unlike just about everybody I know who played D&D most of my actual D&D experience was before there was even such a thing as a published Module. The module I was using was a free one, created as a cooperative effort by people in the Dragonsfoot.org forums, and I have to say strikes me as an extremely half-baked effort. At least, I have a hard time believing that the people who created the content of the rooms actually looked at the map they were keying, since Leomunda and her maid are separated from the bandit guards by a series of rooms with only one entrance or exit, including one that the bandits have spiked shut because they’re afraid of the stirges in it, while the rooms that these captives are in have no guards and an exterior door. I decided that the door was locked and couldn’t be opened from either side without a key possessed by Reonald (or by a thief), but that still leaves twenty or so bandits guarding essentially nothing.

I don’t really know whether the group is going to want to continue these Basic D&D forays after the latest fiasco; it still has the advantage that it’s really quick to generate characters and eminently suited to days when the players present and the prepared GMs don’t line up, but I think that I might have to pour a bit more effort into prepping a better dungeon.

6 thoughts on “Is that a dagger in your pocket, or are you Happy to see me?

  1. Wendy says:

    Heh. We suuuuuuuuck.

    So in your estimation, was this better or worse suckage than the Bronze Tower caper? 🙂

  2. Joshua says:

    Oh, it’s not even in the same league of suckitude as the Bronze Tower/Pandora’s Box adventure. To do that you would have had to kill the girl you were trying to rescue (not just her maid), unleashed a plague on the town, accidentally burned down an orphanage, and then run away.

    This time you actually accomplished some good. You rescued the merchant’s daughter, and probably killed enough of the bandits that they’ll disband. I think it felt worse at the time than it actually was because it was a shocking event. To go from arguing about whether to set a spider free from its tormentors to stabbing an unarmed defenseless woman to death was a pretty big shift in tone.

  3. Doug says:

    I think we’d have done better if we were more used to playing basic DnD. Too much time spent in the “Get XP from finding a solution” type gaming rather than “grab the phat L00t” style kept us from automatically looting the bodies… of at least the unarmed defenseless woman.

    Okay, maybe I’ll give you that we don’t normally find solutions either… but at least we only create slightly larger problems… most of the time.

    Sigh… We suck. 🙂

  4. Joshua says:

    Also, I’d like to point out that the fact that she was in no position to reward you (even if you hadn’t freaked her out by slaughtering her maid), was built into the module, so that part of the Fail was unavoidable.

  5. Mike says:

    You forgot to mention our plan to make a profit by selling the corpses of the bandits to the nearest necromancer. Actually, we planned selling corpses to the necromancer as our primary money making technique.

    Wasn’t there something about raising a huge undead army – for Goodness!

  6. Joshua says:

    Yeah, but that was just idle chatter. If that kind of thing counted….well, I don’t think we’d have ever had a setting that survived the first couple of sessions.

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