Real date: 9/11/17, 9/17/17 In-game date: August 31, EY632
Ambrose (Veteran – Fighter L1)
Asher (Apprentice – Thief L1)
Ustos (Acolyte – Cleric L1) – RIP
NPCs: Gruk – (Barbarian – Fighter L1)
Back in town, Ustos soon had a lead on his missing tome. The Codex was said to be in or near a cave complex to the north and west. A local guide named Arbath had been in the area before and agreed to take the party, for a fee of course. The next day Arbath led the party north along the road leading out of town and turned west, following a line of foothills bordering the Crag Peaks to the north. It was getting dark when their guide told them they were close, they opted to camp and scout the area in the morning. Overnight the alert Thief Asher spotted a band of Orcs traveling west, although the party was sheltered among the hills and remained hidden.
The next morning Arbath took his leave, giving the party directions for the final trek to the caves. They packed up and continued west, and soon spied their target. Crawling low atop a hill they could see several caves guarded by humanoids, however one was unguarded. They headed towards that one, as quietly as possible and made it inside without alerting anyone. They lit a torch and saw a small cave with a stream to the west and a bear fur hanging on the wall to the north. As they moved further in, three Hobgoblins rushed from a concealed room behind the fur and attacked! While the party fought the Hobgoblins, Asher snuck away to see the stream up close. It was deep, and he spotted a long, wooden plank on the far side, perhaps eight feet away. A horn hung from the near wall. He grabbed the horn, thinking it was an alerting system, and was able to leap across the stream and put the plank across it for the others. By this time the Hobgoblin guards were dead, and all was quiet again.
The party continued into the cave, crossing the stream and moving into a large, finished hall with marble pillars supporting a high roof. It extended away to the north, beyond their torchlight. Asher scouted ahead, luckily finding a net trap placed a short distance up the hall. He triggered it while standing to one side, but unfortunately never noticed that there were bells tied to it. The party took up defensive positons behind pillars, and not a moment to soon, as five Hobgoblins sauntered down from the north, clearly expecting to find easy prey underneath the net. They were surprised by a volley of arrows from Asher, Rolgrim and Sturdoon, after which Ambrose and Ustos rushed into melee. After a few rounds Ambrose was wounded, four Hobgoblins were dead, and one was captured. Ustos was able to have a broken conversation with the captured Hobgoblin, who said his name was Berg. He agreed to take the party to his leader if he were set free. The party reluctantly agreed, and followed Berg north into a long room with two doors. The first, to the northwest, was where Berg and the others lived. The door just to the east was for his sub-chief. The party searched the Hobgoblin living quarters, coming up with a bit of treasure for their trouble, and hatched a plan to attack the sub-chief. Their plans were foiled when Yak the sub-chief emerged from his room just at that moment, battle-axe in hand.
The sub-chief was a bit tougher than anticipated, and although the party eventually killed him, poor Ustos lost his head to Yak’s battle axe. In Yak’s quarters they rescued a bound and gagged Elf medium named Imric, who as luck would have it, was in possession of the Codex. They also found a strongbox full of platinum coins. They wisely decided to tend to their wounds and locked themselves in Yak’s quarters for the night.
The cave complex is based on the Basic Fantasy module ‘The Chaotic Caves‘. I’m using the map pretty much as-is, and changing room contents around to suit OD&D. Also, for these early sessions I was using the zero hit points table from Seven Voyages of Zylarthen. When Ustos was brought to zero hit points by the Hobgoblin sub-chief, he rolled a 1 on the table, which was instant death. I kept Ustos’ player in the game by letting him run the captured Elf NPC. I don’t use the table anymore – I found it a bit too specific for a game with highly abstract combat.