Saturday, 11 April 2015

From Threshold to the ruins by the lake

There are 'ruins' marked on the map of Threshold, or, at least, indicated as being off the map to the north, and arguably, by the lake-shore. For those who have access to the Known World Gazetteers, this is probably Castle Mystamere or something. I don't have access to them, so I've never incorporated that info into 'my' Grand Duchy. I've just bolted on stuff as necessary. There's a very detailed map of the region at the Vaults of Pandius site, but I know nothing of the majority of places noted on it.

The ruins near 'my' Threshold are a destroyed city that stood on the lakeside 50 or more years ago, at the time of an evil witch-queen who previously ruled these lands. She was defeated and killed (or, possibly, banished to some shadow-realm, no-one's very sure) by a young Halfling wizard and a good witch.

The Halfling wizard is a legend whose whereabouts are not known. But the retired Halfling adventurer who grows Wolfsbane in Threshold shares his family name of Ufgood, and if you ask around you can find out the Halfling's name is Ranon. Did I mention that the Halflings in these parts are known as Nelwyn (there are three kinds of Halfling in my campaign world - Hin, Kender and Nelwyn)? There used to be a small settlement of them downriver, and those that still live in the district tell crazy stories of how one of their number helped defeat the witch-queen. None of the humans believe it of course, they all know the witch-queen died in the battle that re-united the northern and southern halves of the Grand Duchy, that used to be known as Nockmaar and Galladoorn...

Anyway, the PCs are at it again. They've recruited two new members - Wiz Kalufa, a cleric from the Temple of the Mother in Threshold; and Josef, a thief who the party found tied up in the basement lair of the Snake-Cultists and their Bandit allies. They've cleared the tunnels under Beren's warehouse, by defeating the last Fire Beetle (they forgot to collect its glow-glands however so couldn't sell them to the Alchemists) and also killing three Bandits, as well as finding some of the loot and other goodies that the Bandits and Cultists had hidden down there - some +1 Leather Armour (which will look great on Josef if they ever work that out), a Wand (of Magic Detection), and a rather nice Ring (of Protection +1) - and they're frankly too grateful for the 20GPs Beren agreed to give them. Perhaps they need some real treasure.

Having finally run into the map-seller at the market, the PCs bought a map. An old one, to be sure, but it gave them the idea to go aventuring in the ruins north of town - even though (thanks to the Simple Weather Chart from The Clash of Spear on Shield) it was raining (lightly). Frankly, the Town Guard were glad to see the back of them. And what did they find in the ruins? Well, a few rolls on the Wandering Monster Charts, let me tell you! First up, a party of traders! Errm, presumably on their way to Threshold for the market. And for the number appearing... 1. So, a single trader wandering around the ruins. So, I decided the party encountered a single trader who was eating a late breakfast.

They chatted to him for a bit and made their way onwards. Next up, a party of ... Halflings. Damn that Wandering Monster table! 12 Halflings. Or, as they introduced themselves, Nelwyn. So the party joined them at their singing and dancing. Quickly deciding that a CHA roll would stand in for singing ability, Bjorn and Bromeen, the two Dwarves, attempted to join in with the Halflings' songs. Unfortunately, Bromeen has a CHA of 7 and Bjorn a CHA of 8. They're not very charismatic, and therefore they're not very goo at singing. "'Ere! You've got a 'orrible voice! Don't ever sing to anyone ever again Mister Dwarf!" as one of the Nelwyn said.

The dancing went a little better. Josef the Thief, who has the tolerably-good DEX of 12 (he really had terrible rolls, 12 is his highest stat), attempted to join in the dancing. Hey! A success! The Nelwyn were impressed and invited the party to sit and join them for a tale... the tale of the Wizard Ufgood who helped to defeat Bavmorda the witch-queen.

After a while, the party went on with the exploration. Hearing some screeching from behind some bushes, Josef crept forwards to take a look. Peering through the undergrowth, Josef saw some big white apes. Like, gorillas. Why? Well, tiring of the stupid results from the random monster tables, I consulted the list of prepared encounters I had. Hmm, acolytes, apes, bats, bandits, beetles... I hadn't gotten very far down the list I'll grant you, and the acolytes, bandits, bats and beetles had already been assigned to the cellars under Beren's warehouse. So apes it is then - six of them, approximately as powerful as Ogres.

Enter Wiz Kalufa. Taking a mace he had purloined during the clearing of Beren's cellars, he lobbed it over the bushes. For some reason, he had the idea that he could entice the apes out so that the Halflings would deal with them rather than getting the party to do it. But the apes didn't see where the mace had come from, they just picked it up. So Bjorn decided he would try a more direct method, of actually running into their midst and then running away again. The rest of the party, led by Wizard the cowardly Magic User, had already fled back towards the Nelwyn by this time. Bjorn gave chase, dressed in his plate-mail of course. The apes were in hot pursuit. As Bjorn was in plate mail, the apes were twice as fast as he was. They cought him, and ...a rum little encounter developed as the rest of the party attempted to grab Halflings and throw them towards the apes as a distraction. All of a sudden they were staring down a dozen Halfling archers. But Wizard, being diplomatic, talked everyone down and the party waited to see, with bated breath, what the gorillas would actually do with Bjorn. As I threw '12' for the reaction dice (as I hadn't decided yet what they actually wanted), they hauled him up in the air and carried him around on their shoulders for a bit. When Wiz (Kalufa, nor -ard) attempted to distract them with his rations, they dropped Bjorn and hauled Wiz onto their shoulders instead (somewhat luckily for the party, I threw 12 again for the apes' reaction).

That unfortunately was all we had time for that evening; if the party can get the apes to clear off long enough, they may find that there seems to have been some clandestine digging activity at the ruins of the city of Tir Asleen. If they do find such activity, it should let them into the secret of where 'the bad guys' have been trying to break into as-yet-uncleared cellars and undercrofts of the town. And perhaps, just perhaps, some monsters and treasures await...


  1. I really enjoy your Threshold session reports! Well written and great ideas for flavor and setting, with the actions and reasoning you'd expect from a group of D&D players :) Also some good examples to show that a DM needs to go where the dice lead him (loved the trader having breakfast, the dancing halflings and the reactions of the white apes ...). Makes me thinking about starting a D&D RC/Mystara Campaign ...

    1. Thanks for saying so Jens, I'm glad you enjoy them. I enjoy writing them, nearly as much as I'm enjoying DMing the sessions. My return to regular gaming activity has certainly been interesting - both nostalgic, and surprising, which is actually quite a weird mix!