Saturday, July 2, 2011

Castle Amber... continued.

Around Christmas 2010 and the first of this year I ran a group of friends through the first 1/2 of Castle Amber. We had a great time and it took them two play session and ~12 hours of playing time to get through the keep and into Averoigne. My buddy called me earlier this week, told me he was back from Europe, and would like to throw down more of the adventure. I told him I was free Saturday morning and early afternoon, and would love to continue the adventure.

Well this morning at 6:08am, three drunk friends of mine pounded on my front door. Apparently, they had gone out for a few after dinner drinks last night, which turned into MANY after dinner drinks. They had partied the night away, and decided it would be better to stay up all night, forego sleep, and show up on my door as early as they thought they could get away with it without me just kicking them out.

I grabbed some coffee, the Basic and Expert rulebooks, my dice (enough for 4 players), the Castle Amber adventure module, my improvised BX DM screen, and we started roleplaying at 6:30am this morning.

It is now 5 hours later... and I am remarking about how much Castle Amber is a MEGA MODULE! Don't be fooled, this is not an adventure module, it is a tiny campaign. When we had last left off, the players had just entered Averoigne from Castle Amber. We reviewed the salient points and then we started. First off they found an Inn, met some locales, talked it up and found out that Ximes was ~180 miles south of where they were. They started the ~9 day journey to Ximes, ran into various encounters, and met an adventuring Bard on the road, and finally entered Ximes. The Bard had related to them that he once had learned a Song about a Castle Amber that had disappeared one night long ago after many of the inhabitants had been accused of witchcraft and conversing with the devil! The Bard told them that he thought that maybe Castle Amber had disappeared over 1000 years ago (the bard was exaggerating *insert evil GM chuckle*.)

They decided to start reading a Holy Bible that they had found in Castle Amber, they intially couldn't read it and the mage of the party had collected it thinking that it might be a powerful spellbook. Once transported into Averoigne I ruled that the magic had allowed them to communicate in French as if it were Thayatian common from Mystara. The clerics of the party scoured the book closely and determined important point - there was one supremely powerful god above all others, and he had ruled that magic use was outlawed. They kept all their spellpower undercover from that point on.

They went to the Church in Ximes, and found Azedarc preaching a long sermon in a Catholic church. They put together the pieces and determined that there must be something fishy going on. One of the elves used an invisibility spell to sneak into the back of the church until he ran into Azedarc's assassin. The assassin figured out what was going on and decided to deal with the PC's. The PC's met him at a tavern and there they traded him a scroll with three powerful spells for a potion of time travel. Little did they know that the time travel potion was actually poison mixed with a time travel potion.

They had massive quantities of gold, so they bought a massive wagon and a large wooden boat and traveled north to try and find Sylaire. They found the ruins of Sylaire by levitating amazingly high (I've got to check if I'm playing B/X spell durations correctly) and then finding the ruins from their arial vantage. They passed through the magical gate, and I ruled that they fell asleep.

They awoke to two of their company bound in ropes, and most of their weapons in the hands of a massive group of Neanderthals!!! This was a lot of fun, they had to think quickly on their feet (which isn't easy when you have had zero sleep, but I had never said I wasn't an evil DM!) and figure out how to get their people back. They fought the primitive men for several rounds when the sky began to darken. The Neanderthals saw the sky change and decided to run away.

Sephora of Sylaire stepped forward and apologized for the actions of the primitives. She explained that she was cursed (I was adding things here and there if you haven't guessed, mainly because I hadn't had time to read the module through and was just improvising on my feet). Anyway, I told the group that she was stuck in time at a point where lycanthropic chaos threatened to overwhelm these primitive men inflicting them all with the disease and changing the course of history forever. She needed their help in defeating a time traveling werewolf magic user and then she would give them the sword of Sylaire and return back to the dimension of Averoigne. I had also ruled earlier that in Averoigne clerics turning ability and spells were as a cleric of 3 levels lower due to distance from their deity whereas in Sylaire I allowed the clerics full use of their abilities since the plane was not ruled by our GOD. I explained that Sephora was powerful but she didn't want to risk herself in combat against the wolves since she was the last guardian of these primitive people (blah, blah, blah, lol).

Well, the guys agreed to face down this werewolf magic user. So I look down into the module and find very little description of how to handle the encounter. There is no map, no stats on how many other werewolves he might have created, or any information about his lair. I improvised a map of the area, showed approximately where the werewolf might be. The players ran afoul of several traps in the forest, and a small army of club weilding skeletons (I saw that the were wolf guy had the animate dead spell, and I figured that given enough time he would have raised a small army of undead to guard his lair). Finally, I figured that using wolf spies, he would have gained information about the PC's coming toward him. He took 5 of his most trusted werewolves, 15 normal wolves, and himself as a war party to head out and face the PC's exactly at dusk.

The PC's heard the wolves coming before they saw them - there were 7 PC's in the party total. 5 of the PC's made a circle with the mage in the center and waited. The thief and one of the elves went invisible and ran out into the forest to scout.

The wolves ran through the area occupied by the scouts, and then began running circles around the circle of PC's. The PC's cast everything they could think of for protection and then got ready to fight. The wolves attacked, web spells were cast, hold person, light spells on the eyes of werewolves, the magic using werewolf tried polymorphing the party mage unsuccessfully. Things got dicey for a couple of rounds, but the PC's were eventually able to win, killing off almost all of the wolves, all of the werewolves, and slaying the werewolf magic user with a single lightning bolt (he failed his saving throw)!

The party's fighter lost an arm (I'm using the table of death and dismemberment, which I have on my improvised B/X DM's screen), but everyone lived through the encounter. The PC's gained the sword of Sylaire, but they are planning to go back into the forest to find the lair of the werewolves, rout them all out, and try and find the spellbook of the magic using werewolf! There is absolutely no information about the lair in the Castle Amber module, but I'm thinking since the PC's are planning to wait 3d6 weeks for the fighter (Thorn) to heal up such that he is ready for battle (as well as he can with one arm) - I think one of the werewolves will have become the leader of the group, infected a mass of other primitives, such that now they will have a small contingent of werewolf neanderthals guarding the lair. I think the lair will be a structure made of timber built off the entrance of a natural cave. There will be plenty of traps, and wooden structures built to funnel the PC's down choke points and force them to do battle with the lycanthropes on their terms. A huge encounter from roughly 1 sentence of the module. This adventure can really turn into a campaign. I'm also thinking about what other protections and guards would a 10th level wizard have provided to keep his spellbook from harm (even from the other werewolves) while he headed out to go fight the PC's party.

I've been really generous with EXP for this game, so I gave them all 1500exp each (which brought one of the elves within 1700exp from leveling to LVL5. When this adventure finishes, it will end in a TPK or character retirement anyway, so I'm just playing things fast and loose.

I'm having a lot of fun with B/X D&D - I had to do a lot of house rulings for one adventure, maybe a record. I'll try to write down the things that came up and maybe post them up here for discussion (if anybody is still reading my blog).

My military buddy is going to be around for the next couple of weeks so we decided we will try to get together at least one more time before he heads back to wherever. I'm skeptical that they can finish the adventure in 4-6 hours if they get sidetracked trying to find the lair of the werewolf, so I will probably try to reason with them. However, if they decide to go that route, I already have a mental layout for the werewolf lair and what they might find on the way. Good times.

I came up with a mental plan for an alternate ending to the Castle Amber adventure involving the abominations of Yondo, and mummy guards, and half-men worshipers of the abominations, for the tomb of Stephen, so I'm going to have to spend at least an hour writing down some notes and sketching up some maps to flesh that part out in case the PC's make it to the end of the adventure...

If they do, I'll make sure to blog out a play report from how it went!

No comments:

Post a Comment