Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tales from the Borderlands – Episode 4 – The Sweet Taste of Victory

               Last week’s adventure was a massive success for the players. I believe that the two PCs that died last week, came back and made characters that fit the party’s needs better. We lost a Fighter and an Elf last week, they remade characters and have a Cleric and a Magic-User. The Cleric could have made a really good Fighter, but the player wanted to be a Cleric. He has an 18 STR, 13 CON, and 13 DEX, while his WIS is 11. Even so, they have a good tank in the Cleric who will eventually get some spells. The Magic-User rolled pretty average across the board, and that is not bad for a MU. The thing he did roll was the magic number 11 on a d12 for his random spell. Any player of Old SchoolEssentials or BX should know the mythic number 11, because it is Sleep. That spell is just so darn good at low levels and can turn the tide for a party that is in danger. We also had a new player, who was a solid 5e player, but wanted to try older D&D. He really enjoyed the change of pace and commented on how fun it was because your characters are so fragile. He said you have to make good decisions, and bad decisions make the game so tense. He rolled up a good Fighter and was pleased with his results. The only returning character we had this week was the Dwarf, the two thieves could not make it. So 1 Dwarf, 1 Fighter, 1 Cleric, and 1 Magic-User are heading to the Caves of Chaos, with a single torch bearer Alania in tow.

                The group immediately heads back to the Owlbear caves and wants to search its lair for any possible treasure. As they enter, I make sure to mention there is a whole wing of the cave system here that they have not explored. They head into the debris strewn lair of the Owlbear and search and find grasp in the hand of one of the victims of an attack, a scroll case. The new fighter of the group discovers this singularly, and decides to not share it, or make anyone aware of its presence. In fact, he does not even open the scroll case to see what is inside. Generally in a game of this nature, that is not a good idea, but each to their own. Seeing that there is nothing else, they decided to enter the other side of this particular cave system.

                I was really worried about this section because the chance of PC death is quite high, and unless the party takes extreme caution it can go downhill fast. I describe how the cave’s debris starts to lessen and the cave starts to become damper and damper. They enter a cavern that is dominated by a small lake and they begin to circle the outside of it. One of the PCs notices a shiny object in the pool and points it out to the other characters. They decide to remove everyone from the cave except the dwarf, and have him take a look at it with his Infravision. As the party members leave the dwarf’s vision starts to adjust and he notices that the thing in the water is not alive, or at least does not radiate heat. That is when the gray oozes lash out with their surprise actions. Normally gray ooze is a nasty combatant that can strip away armor, surprise opponents, and melt their flesh. These guys felt more like the smiling slimes from Dragon Warrior on NES. The party beat them down and the oozes could not hit for love or money. They then retrieved the golden chalice from the water, and left the cave feeling pretty good about themselves.

I wanted them to be more dangerous then this.

                I rolled a random encounter for them and decided to bring back their old friend the Ogre. He was waiting there with a herd of six goblins wanting some money and payback. He saw them laughing and literally drinking from the golden chalice and wanted that in exchange for their lives. I had a dramatic speech ready to give about how he was going to crush their bones, and then destroy the Keep, but before I can get to that the Magic-User interrupts and says, “I cast Sleep, screw that guy.” He rolled really good and all seven of the combatants fall asleep. They then begin to slaughter all of them, roll up into his cave, take back the money he stole from them with a hefty bonus of gold he extorted from the goblins in the past few weeks. With those successes under their belt, and light left in the day they decided to head back to the keep to safely store their gains. Did I forget to mention they decided not to hire the Woodsman this trip as a guide? Because they did not. I had not been making them possibly get lost, and lowered the random encounter rate due to him, but they thought they knew better.

                On the way back, they were camped on the 2nd night and the Cleric was on watch. The Cleric did not hear the sounds of the approaching doom until it was almost too late. The party was attacked by 10 skeletons, and the real issue was that the skeletons were on them almost before they could stand. They decided they did not want to abandon their gains, and wanted to fight the overwhelming odds. They battled and fell back more than once, the Cleric failed their Turn Undead check, and the Dwarf was taken below zero for the 2nd time, but survived. The funniest part to me is that the Fighter hiding the scroll was actually hiding a Scroll of Protection from Undead. I find his greed being their near downfall utterly hilarious. Scrambling to leave, they realize that the Dwarf was the only member of the party that even remotely knew the route to and from the cave, as this was everyone else’s first time. Then proceed to get lost for 2 more days before finding the Keep, avoiding random encounters along the way.

                We called it a little early because we had enough time for some book keeping, but not another trip into the caves. I think I am going to have the noble of the Keep take notice of them now, because they are actually doing some good. I was thinking about offering some alternative adventures like seeking the hermit, finding the bandits, or even traveling to Orlane to deal with the local issue of strange happenings. We will see what they want to do and how it will all unravel. I hope everyone is still enjoying the series and I hope that you follow the blog.

Soon I hope...

Missed the other Episodes? Look here to catch up.

I went ahead and created a Facebook group for the blog, if you are interested the link is here.


  1. I'm loving it. This is fun to follow but I cringe at some of their decisions. I guess when I played back in the day, we were much more "team oriented"; it kept us alive longer. These guys really don't seem to have a lot of common sense but I'm glad they're having fun!

  2. Wait till you see what happens this week.

  3. Your skeleton story reminds me of the group I DM'd in college. They were almost taken out by a shambling mound until the ranger's player asked, "Hey everybody, I have a potion of plant control. Do you think that will work?"

  4. That was about the short and skinny of it.

  5. A sleep spell only affects one creature at 4+1 HD like an ogre. So it shouldn't have got the ogre AND the goblins.

    Really enjoying reading these. Am actually doing some solo playtesting using the Caves so it's great reading a blow-by-blow account of the same ground I've been immersed in.

  6. Funny story about that situation. I have been using OSE rules, but on that day I forgot my Kindle at home since the physical books are not out yet. I did by chance have my BECMI rules on me, and that isn't a restriction in BECMI.