Player Characters Present
Minas Mandalf, Holy City & Capital of Machodor. The perfect place for a new bunch of Lawful Good characters to make a start on their adventuring career. The attendant at the Adventurers Aid Society looked them up and down and suggested a job sponsored by the Merchants' guild; someone, or something (perhaps goblins) has been raiding and robbing their river barges coming up from the Bandit mountains to the south.
The merchant representative offered them the use of a small barge, and three men-at-arms who could double as rowers.
Referring to DMG p54, and, for some reason, completely missing the option to use a sail (perhaps it had been damaged by goblins); then, checking the map, I judged they could cover the 65 miles or so to the mountains at a glacial 1 mile per hour. It would take about 3 days, most of that time being in "inhabited/patrolled" areas. Fresh and keen for adventure they set off, reaching Gnomesville by the end of the first day without incident. Apart from other water borne traffic there were no encounters until sunset on the third day, when a full pride of 11 lions could be seen on the western shore. The party decided to let them be.
Next morning they continued on and soon reached a river lock. The men-at-arms/bargemen volunteered that the river worked its way right through the mountains via locks such as these; built by unknown parties in the distant past, they were largely automated, although occasionally the merchant guild sponsored craftsmen to maintain them.
Having gained about 50 feet in altitude, they continued on up river, following the path many long years of weathering had carved between the mighty walls of the mountains on either side.
They started noticing openings in the wall to their right; some were well above the stony beach about 10' back from the river, others at water level. They picked one of the latter and beached their craft nearby, then assigned two of the men at arms to guard the vessel.
Marty O'Tool gave a blessing to their endeavours and they went in (see map below).
The corridor, carved out of the stone but long weathered to remove any but its most basic features, went west, branching off to the north west after 10', and continuing on 50' before opening into a 40' square chamber. Within the chamber were two Fire Beetles apparently investigating a large chest that sat against the north wall.
Lance clashed his sword against his shield and attempted to intimidate the Fire Beetles; the reaction roll indicated success, and they scuttled away from the chest and off through the north east exit. The party now eyed the unprotected chest and lamented the fact they had no thieves were with them, until Slap pointed out that Monks have thief skills. He determined there were no traps on the chest, then threw it open to reveal it was filled with a mixture of copper and electrum coins. When he stuck his hands in to begin counting the coins, I had to make an interesting adjudication.
I was thinking that given the situation, it didn't make much sense that an unprotected chest was just waiting here; but, as the Appendix A result showed, it was not unprotected at all. In fact it was a fiendishly clever trap, the coins were poisoned! As a monk, Slap needed 13 to save against the poison; with a result of a 9, was that it for the blue skinned novice? Thinking of monster poison, I was pretty sure it was. However, I wasn't really sure, as Appendix A gives no guidance on what type of poison can be placed on treasure. This case called for a closer look at the DMG's poison rules.
|DMG p. 20
Given the context, it was clear to me that goblins had poisoned the coins and left the chest here for just this reason; to kill greedy adventurers. So what kind of poison would they use?
Since even goblins wouldn't rely on adventurers to put coins in their mouths, I ruled out Ingestive. Insinuative types C&D looked way too expensive for goblins to fabricate, so I randomly selected between A & B; getting A. Now the footnote for this poison allows for a +4 on the saving throw, and this was just enough for Slap to succeed when he otherwise would have failed (I ruled that goblins apply such poison as well as a trained assassin, meaning that there was no further saving throw bonus).
But wait, right next to the saving throw bonus information, the above table lists the chance of tasting/smelling/seeing the poison. So for Type A there is a huge 80% chance that Slap would actually have detected the presence of the poison before grabbing the coins. I rolled for this and he comfortably passed. We immediately had to retcon that Slap never even touched the poisoned coins!
If I had prepped all this I could have simply chosen the type of poison; but, with Appendix A, until now I'd simply assumed that poison such as this worked as save or death; but there is a lot more to it than that. In typical BrOSR fashion, the players were all invested and interested in finding out the RAW interpretation, even while Slap's life was on the line; everyone patiently waited the few minutes as I worked through all this. DMs, get yourself Elite players if you can.
The party checked the handles of the chest and, finding them to be free of poison, proceeded to carry it back out to the stony river shore and left it near their barge. They gave a quick explanation to the bargemen on watch and then returned inside.
They checked the north west passage and found a small chamber where the two Fire Beetles had taken refuge. Again, the party concluded that it was not worth tangling with such creatures; instead they went south, passed through an enclosed room where there was a lot of broken glass strewn about the place; then into a 40' square chamber. This featured one large passage leading back out to the beach, and three other exits; one west, one south west, & one south east.
As they reached the archway leading to the western passage, 15 Giant Rats were coming the other way. Again, neither side was surprised and Lance's intimidation had them running back the way they came, which turned out to be a 30' passage that terminated at a staircase going down. Not convinced of the merits of going deeper just yet, they moved to explore the south west exit to the chamber and ran into 13 Goblins. Once more, neither side was surprised and it was also no surprise when the goblins attacked.
The party were well placed to hold the 10' wide archway and placed Brim, the man-at-arms, next to Lance, both with spears set, followed by Slap with a spear of his own, then the two clerics bringing up the rear. Comfort Rod Cursed the enemy in a manner that somehow did not draw the wrath of the Paladin (but may still when he thinks about it later).
|pretty dang useful versus Goblins
Next round the Curse took effect, so, this combined with the Paladin's aura gave the goblins a -3 penalty. It's important to note that this penalty is in effect a improvement in the party members' AC, and not a reduction in the goblin's rolls to hit (see Mr Wargaming's excellent treatment here). Two more of the enemy went down, to be replaced by those in the next rank; meanwhile Lance spotted some from the rear rank running back down the corridor and away from the party.
Before this battle I had yet to determine if it was possible to circle around to the south east archway in the chamber by moving down the south west corridor; but a roll or two on Appendix A determined that the two areas actually did join up, and of course the goblins would know this.
Maybe a round or two passed while the fight continued, with only Brim the Man-at-arms taking any damage; but then the goblins won initiative as the four who had circled around to come at the party from behind now charged into the chamber at the two clerics. Perfect tactics! Alas for them, they concentrated on Comfort Rod's Ringmail and Shield, and missed every time. This failure, along with the steady attrition at the front, proved too much and the goblins broke off and fled; the party's front rank eliminated the ones there with their free attacks; but three of the those at the rear managed to get away from the swinging blunt weapons of the clerics.
Not wanting to give chase, nor wanting the goblins to get away, the party went down the south west corridor in order to 'head them off at the pass'.
|I managed to keep this thought to myself
I rolled to determine which direction the goblins would flee, and they went the other way to the south; so far unexplored by the party. As it turned out, it was the only reasonable direction for the goblins to flee. Disappointed at losing them, but not wanting to go through the door and continue the chase, the party set about mapping and resting from the fight, looting the bodies etc. They soon after found a triangle shaped room was the only area to the west. Inside was broken packaging that matched the description of some missing wine crates. Upon reflection the broken glass they had previously found must have been that of wine bottles. Drunk goblins!
The party continued their exploration, pretty much now cautiously pursuing the goblins who had gotten away. They cleared another chamber and then a corridor that eventually turned west. Suddenly, from a hole in the ceiling, a flask of oil was emptied on Comfort Rod; followed by a flaming cinder and the sound of goblins' guttural laughter. Fortunately Rod was able to catch the cinder and throw it clear, receiving only minor burns in the process. He then wisely declared the need to wash off the rest of the oil in the river. Everyone agreed they had pushed their luck far enough for one delve, and when they were ready they set off back to Minas Mandalf, arriving without incident a day and a half later.
|The River Dungeon