Sunday, June 29, 2014

Actual Play: Gygax, You Magnificent Bastard

Several sessions after I thought my players were done with the Caves of Chaos, a number of low-level PCs added to last night's session brought them to a long-neglected mission into the Shrine of Evil Chaos.

The party composition is pretty mixed; there are two fourth-level fighters, but only one was present last night. There were also a second level cleric and hobbit, and a first level cleric and elf. Figuring that they'd handle the Caves more readily, they went out to Cave K.

Defiling the altar in the Shrine turned out to be a bad idea, and caused the alarm bell in the Temple to sound. Then the PCs ran and locked themselves in the passage to the east - down the stairs.

Exploring for an exit, the party instead promptly found the Medusa, and saving throws combined with lots of running they kept her in the cell room. The hobbit showed a lot of bravery by throwing his shield against the door opening when she slid it open to try and stone the PCs outside. More wandering led to the room with the wight, and a quick flight from there. The PCs wound up going back up and trading blows with the acolytes above. The second level cleric failed his save against cause fear and ran back down below, but the elf Charmed one of the other acolytes.

The fleeing PC wound up in the storage room, blocked in by the gelatinous cube. He used his superior speed and winning initiative to maneuver the cube into the storage room and then outrun it out of the room. Probably the cleverest bit of outright running I've ever seen in a D&D game, and it got him out alive.

Meanwhile the other PCs had run out of the cave. The cleric managed to turn a bunch of skeletons and get out without dying. No treasure, and only a few opponents killed, made this a bust for experience.

Despite that it was proof of the principle that sometimes PCs have to run. There were multiple occasions where I was wondering if there was going to be a TPK; despite the dice landing where they may, they got out of each jam. Nobody leveled, and I had to adjust XP downward for 4th level characters fighting much lower level NPCs. I also noticed that I need good B/X reference sheets; I found myself flipping between the Basic and Expert books a bit too often.

I came out with more appreciation of Gygax. Making a much harder level when you go down stairs is a great switch from most of KotB where, as one player noted, lower is easier. But that medusa was simply a magnificent moment of bastardry.


  1. I guess I'm *not* sorry I missed it, LOL

  2. The Keep continues to amaze me. I try to read every play report I can find, and every one turns out a little different.

    They call it a meat grinder, but it's more like a buzz saw. If you get out of the way of the pointy bits, you can do pretty well.

  3. Replies
    1. B2 Keep on the Borderlands. I thought the picture of the cover and the "keep on the borderlands" tag made that clear, sorry.

  4. I agree with Scott. The Keep is a wonderful module. There are so many different ways to play it. No two adventures there are ever the same.

    Thanks for the awesome report.


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