This session was played on 08/18/21 wherein the PCs adventured for 5 days. Needing one day of rest afterwards as per ACKS rules the PCs can make downtime requests and play in sessions starting 08/25/21.
The party set out from Turos Spen with most of Team A in tow. Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 5) was still recovering from her Mortal Wound back on Session 27 so would not be participating. Their intention was to return to the Blister of Doom; the low level dungeon in ACKS introductory module The Sinister Stone of Sakkara.
Why would the higher level PCs of Team A return to what appeared to be a level 1 dungeon, you may ask? The discussion on the voice channel was how much of a failure Session 28 was: the party of Team C misfits and level 1 lads never even ARRIVED at the dungeon in question. The players wanted another shot at returning but this time with a better chance of arrival and a higher chance of success. As you'll see in the session report they did indeed have a better go of it.
Another reason the players wanted to return is they felt they were seeing evidence of the evil inside the dungeon growing. This is a dungeon that was introduced in session 1 with the Legate of Turos Tem offering a solid 2,000 GP reward to "remove the threat". Real DND, brosr dnd, uses real time. With session 1 having taken place on November 8th of 2020 that means this dungeon has been in the world for 9 months. That's 9 months that, whatever festering evil might be lurking, could be growing in strength.
Now, I'm not confirming this to be true but some of the players seemed to believe it to be so. BriarWhisper (PC Elven Ranger Level 3) was particularly convinced that the mass throngs of beastmen in the Viaspen Forest was due to the "Blister of Doom" casting an evil aura over the forest.
Who knows! But the point being that real dnd allows for this sort of emergent storytelling through random encounter tables and Patron play. Stay tuned for an upcoming session report and perhaps a special report of Patron play (mass combat?) to see how perhaps the PCs indeed saw the signs and predicted a growing beastmen and monster throng threat.
But for session 29, the PCs left Turos Spen and were able to arrive at the dungeon with no difficult random encounters. They were travelling with Crassus's (PC Venturer Level 2) 50 or so mercenaries so one can assume most random encounters with smaller numbers of creatures chose not to approach the PCs and their private platoon.
Blackmoon (PC Assassin Level 1) and his Player were Calling tonight.
They trekked into the dungeon and made their way through level one and towards the evil obelisk pyramid thing they raided back on Session 22. They passed by the corpse of the leprosy dragon that Mandonio (Deceased PC Fighter Level 3 and Petty Hero of Turos Tem Legature) helped kill alongside Gaius (PC Fighter Level 4). Inside the pyramid were spiral stairs going down to level two of the dungeon.
At level two the party explored a man made cave system of hallways that were intersected here and there with natural caves and caverns. They ended up taking on quite a few beastmen and monsters and I'm going to give the hits.
The first combat was with some hobgoblins that wandered up behind the party while they were listening at a door. Neither side was surprised by the hobs got a fast enough initiative score where they were able to charge at the back rank of the party, including Allbright (henchmen to BriarWhisper, Level 0) whose arms and legs they chopped off with rusty halberds. Gaius took a hit in this combat for like 5 damage I think but the party had no further problems ending the hobs.
Next they traveled deeper into the dungeon and heard some big humanoids wrestling and laughin down the hall. BriarWhisper snuck up and found two ogres wrestling and acting up. They had no clue the elf was there so he took a sniping ambush shot at one of the ogres for big damage that left the ogre reeling but not dead. BriarWhisper then fled away and back to the main party wherein the PCs set to receive a charge from the ogres. This sort of "kiting" stuff happened a few sessions back, as I see it alot in my face-to-face campaign, so I have a House Rule wherein I roll a Reaction Check to see if the monsters in question chase the sniper and run into the party's spears around a corner.
Smarter combatants are unlikely to do so as I give them a bonus to the roll. Dumb brutes like ogres? Very likely! Well, they fell for it this time as well.
As they charged down the hall at the party Blackmoon made a perfect throw hitting one of the ogres with military oil directly in his eyes and killing him. The substance splashed across his friend who also took damage. The final ogre ran into some spears taking big damage but not enough to fell him. He got one attack with his apparently magic sword with a cobra hilt on the PCs but missed. The party then surrounded and killed him before he attacked again.
Two ogres killed with no damage taken. Amazing!
In the brutes' smelly lair at the dead end of a hallway the party found 1,000 GP in some ratty old sacks.
Turning back east in the dungeon the party explored down a natural hallway finding some weird centipede things at a dead end protecting their nest of trash and corpses. I didn't see any good reason for the PCs to attack these things but they charged in and took the creatures down without any major injury to themselves. There was 50 gp and a silver ring among the corpses the vermin kept in their home.
Later the party listened at a door and BriarWhisper declared there to be a handful of gnolls behind it. Well the party hates gnolls so they busted the door open and went in for the kill. Gaius decided to hold the front line at the door alone with Odrum (PC Explorer Level 1) behind him with halberd for reach attacks. That turned out to be a near fatal mistake for Gaius as four of the gnolls charged across the room with spears, two successfully landing attacks. In ACKS spears do double damage if set against a charge or if charging at least 20' before landing an attack. So Gaius too 2d8x2 damage. 28 damage I believe. Gaius fell to the floor convulsing and possibly dead, blood spilling from spear strikes.
The rest of the party was able to fell the gnolls and check Gaius's body. Xanthus (PC Cleric L2) was prepared to call on the power of Istreus to heal the former Legionnaire but it turned out to be unnecessary. Gaius practiced #dicemastery and #simplyrolledhigh on his Mortal Wounds check. He stood back up with 1 hit point talking of visions of his fallen comrades; most especially Mandonio who told him in the vision that Gaius needs to "finish the job".
The gnolls had 50 gp among them. The party grabbed it up and decided it was time to escape the dungeon since Gaius could no longer fight until he rested for a day. On the way out of the dungeon some hobgoblins on level 1 got the drop on the party but, instead of attacking, demanded the party pay them 50 gp or the hobs would charge the party's back rank in attack. Odrum and Blackmoon agreed to simply pay the ransom and escape the dungeon to fight another day.
There were no random encounters in the wilderness trek back to Turos Tem and the party stopped there for the night.
Among the #BroSR there is a great deal of discussion about whether dungeons serve any purpose or whether adventure modules should be used at all. My stance on the issue is mixed.
Firstly it's important to note how my players feel about dungeoneering. They've done plenty of overland stuff that many in the brosr swear by. They've mostly enjoyed themselves marching around the wilderness with mercs and henchmen looking for lairs to topple and treasure maps to follow. After this session, however, all the players were in good spirits. One player mentioned "it was nice to just delve something and have a clear threat we could address". Another player mentioned sarcastically "wait did we actually find some treasure and get XP?!" This is in reference to the fact that the Party's overland travel treks have led to some XP from killing monsters but the Party's success at finding treasure from such treks has been less than stellar.
He also mentioned that it is much faster to deal with multiple encounters in a dungeon than during overland travel, the session was more funner and less stressful. Things move faster and players are engaged more quickly with new scenarios than with overland travel and random encounters of same. Some players simply prefer dungeon crawls to wilderness crawls. Which is fine. Real D&D can accommodate all legitimate play preferences.,
This is the best argument for the use of dungeons but not necessarily dungeon modules (products).
As far as dungeon adventure modules are concerned (products) I think most DMs would be better suited to simply make everything up as they go from scratch, dungeons included. Jeffro's claim is that adventure modules themselves encourage bad play to such a degree that a DM will never advance in skill. That the modules encourage DMs to simply chain adventure modules together and call that a campaign.
That most certainly is NOT a proper D&D campaign. Yet it is the sort of D&D campaign most DMs offer and most Players have experienced. So sad. There is a better way!
Perhaps you got a sense of it above in my session report? The players have ignored this Adventure Module for about 2 months of play and haven't attempted my VERY FIRST HOOK much at all for about 10 months of play. In 29 sessions they've only been inspired to tackle the intro hook maybe a half a dozen times.
This is how you use an adventure module. I simply have a MODULAR LOCATION that exists in the world and the players are free to ignore it or focus on it as their whims strike. This is why early TSR DND adventures were called "modules" and not "adventures". These days "adventure" is the marketing word of choice because the product provides the DM with a plot or "story" to force onto his players. Bad form!
Notice how my players have imagined their own story out of this dungeon. To them it's a source of dark power that is casting an aura onto the forest. They are blaming some random encounters with large throngs of beastmen in the forest on the dungeon. So in their campaign canon their PCs have decided to cleanse the problem. The module itself doesn't offer that "story" it merely offers a location with hallways and denizens with their own simple goals the DM can riff on.
Riff I have!
I will reveal here that the PCs are right on some level. I made special random encounter tables to reflect the way in which the Viaspen Forest is different than a standard fantasy forest. This table is influenced by whatever is at play in the "Blister of Doom" dungeon. Including the disgusting akira monsters of last session!
Patron play also has an impact on a dungeon. A Patron might decide to delve a dungeon to farm materials for a magic item, for instance. Or he may have heard of a particular NPC in the dungeon he'd like to form an alliance with or make his henchmen. Perhaps a patron would go to a dungeon and look to recruit all the orcs in the dungeon to act as a unit in his army and go on military campaign with them across the wilderness hex map.
One ACKS module explicitly states how long before the main bad guy(s) of the main dungeon can be ignored before they exit the dungeon and begin a military campaign across the region; and what their goals are. Elite level #brosr DMs would do well to give this particular monster army to a Patron if and when it departs the dungeon looking for bigger and better things.
I can neither confirm or deny any of those things happened since my players might be reading this. But the point is if you have a MODULAR dungeon and use Jeffrogaxian Timekeeping, all these things are up for grabs. If the dnd product you purchased demands certain "story" elements happen then you can't really do the above, Real D&D would interrupt the product's carefully planned story or "scene".
In conclusion, you should only use D&D Modules that are truly modular. All of the ACKS official modules are such. Additionally, you should only use such modules if you have mastered Real D&D that includes Real Time Timekeeping, Patrons, Downtime, bespoke Random Encounter Tables, and improvisation with yours (and your Players') own ideas.
I hate to say it (truly) but Jeffro is right.
Most DMs are not good enough at their craft to use modules and deliver a Real D&D campaign worth playing. The modules will stunt their creativity and smother the campaign before it has a chance to grow into something the DM and players are passionate about. Before using an adventure module ask yourself if you are truly a dungeon master or are you a dungeon amateur? If the latter, make up 100% of your own material. Your mastery will grow in the attempt. If the former, feel free to use some modular materials to SAVE PREP TIME, not to replace a real campaign.
Peruse my old session reports and follow the #brosr tag on tw1tter on tips for becoming a true dungeon master. You too can #WinAtRPGS !
Surviving PCs Present
Blackmoon (0% XP Bonus) Assassin Level 1. 273 XP gained. Total: 785
BriarWhisper (5% XP Bonus) Elven Ranger Level 3. 287 XP Gained. Total: 7,406
Crassus (10% XP Bonus) Venturer Level 2. 300 XP gained. Total: 1,608
Gaius (10% XP Bonus) Fighter Level 4. 300 XP Gained. Total: 10,454
Garvin the Nutless Wonder (10% XP Bonus) Mage Level 1. 300 XP Gained. Total: 300
Odrum (5% XP bonus) Explorer Level 1. 287 XP gained. Total: 287
Xanthus (10% XP bonus) Cleric Level 2. 300 XP gained. Total: 2,364
Surviving Hench Presnet
Surero (Blackmoon) 137 xp gained. Total: ???
Horse (is an actual horse) (BriarWhisper) 0 xp gained. Total: ???
Dama (L1 Venturer) played by RR. Current total xp: 75. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.
Darius LeVay (L1 Assassin) played by JB. Current Total XP:451. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.
Donald the Guardsman (L1 Fighter) played by MP. Current Total XP:570. DECEASED. Intra-party justice in Session 3.
Felix (L1 Thief) played by Nicholas. Current Total XP:431. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.
Hektor (L1 Paladin) played by Moai. DECEASED. Cause of Death: goblin warg rider throat removal surgery in Session 2
Leonidas the Inquisitor (L1 Cleric) played by RR.Current Total XP:498 DECEASED. Frozen undead blistering cold aura left his skin frostbitten and broken in Session 6. Body not recovered.
Mard the Mage (L1 Mage) played by Nicholas. DECEASED. Frozen undead blistering cold aura left his skin frostbitten and broken in Session 6. Body not recovered.
Yolo Baggins "My friends call me Swaggins" (L1 Gnomish Trickster) played by J. DECEASED. Paralyzed and eaten by ghouls in Session 12. Body not recovered.
Jack Filcher (L1 Thief) played by C. DECEASED. Shot full of arrows by Inthorn's brigands in Session 12. Body not recovered.
Swoleous Maximus (L1 Paladin). DECEASED. Captured then drawn and quartered by Inthorn the Brigand warlord in Session 12. Posthumously named "Petty Hero of Turos Tem" by Legate Valerian. Ashes offered a place of pride in the Hospital.
Damianus (L1 Cleric). DECEASED. Captured and beheaded by Inthorn the Brigand warlord in Session 12. Posthumously named "Petty Hero of Turos Tem" by Legate Valerian. Ashes offered a place of pride in the Hospital.
Bucky (L1 Barbarian). DECEASED. Became a illegal pit fighter during his downtime. Had two bouts to the death, winning the first and losing the second. Was killed by Young Jack Sparrow who sashayed into the ring, drank rum, and mogged on Bucky before putting a dagger into his ribs, killing him. This happened during downtime between Session 17 and 18.
Broll Wolf-Eater (L1 Barbarian). Current total XP: 1079. DECEASED. Carried off by harpies after falling for their enchanting song in Session 19.
Brother Franklin (L1 Cleric). DECEASED. Decapitated by a mad cultist of a Lovecraftian slime thing in Session 19.
Felix the Elder (L1 Bard). Total XP 825. DECEASED. Captured by mad cultists and fed to a Lovecraftian slime monster in Session 19.
Templar Flavius Africanus (L1 Cleric). Total XP 7. Killed by the claws and beak of mad harpies in Session 19.
Xendi (L1 Explorer). Total XP 6. DECEASED. Carried off by harpies after falling for their enchanting song in Session 19.
Yllmeeton (L3 Shaman). Total XP 4,563. Bludgeoned by the corpse of a bowmen by Rosie Odonnel hag in Session 21.
Longinus (L2 Assassin). Total XP 2,036. Had his face ripped off by Rosie Odonnel hag in Session 21.
Mandonio (L3 Fighter). Total XP 4,779. Charred to a leprous crisp by diseased Dragon breath in Session 22.
Corydon (L1 Joker). Total XP: 0. Burnt to a crisp by chimera breath so thoroughly his corpse wasn't even fit for the crows. Died with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. that's life and as funny as it seems... some people get their kicks, stomping on a dream... In Session 25.
Donny Keebler (L1 Elven Spellsword). Total XP 2,238. Had his legs burned completely off by chimera fire breath in Session 25.
Marina (L2 Fighter). Total XP: 2,204. Burnt into ash by a chimera fire breath in Session 25.
Gundro (L2 Gnomish Trickster). Total XP: 2,575. Had his mouth and tongue bitten off by a lizardman ambusher in the dank sewers below Cyfaraun in Session 26.
Polydoros (L1 Fighter). Total XP: 0. Had his legs ripped off and eaten by Akira monsters in the dark canopy of the Viaspen Forest in Session 28.
Alexa this is so sad play "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins from the "Footloose" Official Motion Picture Soundtrack