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The Goodman Gang in The Mysterious Tower

Goonalan said:
I'm still frustrated with this story hour, if anyone has any clues as to how I can improve it then please don't hesitate to drop me a line, it could be so much better. I think it's partly because when I play this group they tend to skip back story and the roleplay which usually occurs during, and definitely between scenarios- they just want to get their dice rolling and get stuck in- obviously this makes character development incidental to the action (dice rolling).

Suggestions please...

To be honest, I think you're being a bit hard on yourself. I'm certainly enjoying the storyhour as it is. (But maybe I'm just easy to please. :p )

As regards the players' behaviour, I think it's understandable, both OOC and IC, that when the action's on, they focus on that. Just like a football team will focus on the game when they're on the pitch, and leave the inter-personal stuff in the dressing room (except in the case of Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer, obviously :D ). And I see nothing wrong with the storyhour mirroring that.

The only way I can suggest to inter-mix things a bit more is if some of the "roleplaying" - even if it take splace between adventures - can be written up as if it occurs during breaks within the action - when the party's resting etc. But that depends on the type of interaction concerned - it could probably be done with PC to PC conversations, but not with conversations with NPCs who aren't there. Maybe some could be done with "flashback" type handling - "While they sat staring into the campfire, Newt wondered whether he should really have ..." That sort of thing.

Anyway, as Loup says, I don't think much really needs fixing at all. Just keep it coming. :)

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Thanks, to both of you- much appreciated.

The problem with the roleplaying between scenarios is that... well, it doesn't exist. There's very little except shopping lists to fill, it's hard for us all to get together and so when we get a session organised, once a month- twice if we're very lucky, then the players want to dive into the next scenario with the minimum fuss. There's time for a little back-story and then it's sword and spell time.

I'll press on, the stuff that you're reading now is from a while back, I keep good notes though, the SH so far posted represents less than a quarter of the action. The present posts are from the second Goodman Games scenario, the players (note I didn't say characters) are just finishing their ninth Goodman Games scenario- there's lots more of this to come.

Thanks again.

It's good to talk.


List so far is-

Dungeon Crawl Classics #0
Legends are Made, not Born
An Adventure for 0 Level Characters

Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters

Dungeon Crawl Classics #11
The Dragonfiend Pact
For 2nd Level Characters

Dungeon Crawl Classic #14
Dungeon Interludes
Chapter 1: The Eye of the Night
Level 1-3 (Scaled to level 4)

Dungeon Crawl Classic #24
Legend of the Ripper
Level 1-3 (Scaled to level 4- except the Water Elemental)

Dungeon Crawl Classic #3
The Mysterious Tower
Level 3-5

Dungeon Crawl Classic #14
Dungeon Interludes
Part 2: The Defiled Sanctuary
Level 3-5

Dungeon Crawl Classic #28
Into the Wilds
Level 1-3 (Scaled to lvl 4)

Dungeon Crawl Classic #17
Legacy of the Dragon Kings
Level 4-6

It probably averages out at 2 game sessions per scenario. As you can no doubt work out I don't give out a lot of XP along the way, the highest level character is level 4 at present.

I've got-

Dungeon Crawl Classic #26
The Scaly God
Level 4-6

Ready to run next.



Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 23: Bobby Ewing.

Bec stands statue-still, smoke fills his vision, he moves forward cautiously, opens his mouth to speak, something makes him stop.


He mumbles to himself.

His vision clears slowly; he’s on a cobbled street, a long way away… He’s home- way back home, Grimbo, the town he was born in, grew up in- before he ran away.

Coming up the hill towards him is his best friend, Hovis Presley, except there’s something odd about him; he’s shorter, and younger, maybe only six years old.

Bec looks down, he’s six too.

Ohhh- he thinks.

He waits for Hovis to get level with him and then waves furiously, rushes out to meet him, and passes straight through the spirit. Hovis doesn’t register a thing- marches on, down the hill.

Bec stands still for a second and then swipes at himself, his hand passes through his spectral form.


He shrugs, and follows his friend, all the way down the street to Hovis’ fathers shop, to the Hovis Bakery at the bottom of the hill; then quickly nips in through an open side door, which Hovis locks behind him with his key.

Bec strides into the Hovis Bakery’s floury heart.

Men and women mix, kneed and fold; ovens fume- it’s a production line and it smells like heaven.

He passes on, follows Hovis through into a smaller chamber, men and women make pies, and pastries, and slices, and turnovers, and… with cream, and icing, and jam, and jelly- a fug of icing sugar fills the air.

Bec stands tongue out tasting the sweet air.

He grins.

Then gingerly reaches out for an egg custard, his hand passes clean through the dessert.

He shrugs again and presses on into the front of the store, the shop itself, he stands behind the counter, open mouthed.

On the other side of the counter is Anya, a fully… erm developed Anya.


Except for the cream.

And icing.

And one, two… three cherries.

She leans forwards to talk to him, he can see her… Bec blushes furiously, turns away, and locks eyes on his friend Hovis Presley again, who doesn’t look away.

“Go on then… Serve her.” Hovis states.

Bec gulps, “What can I get you Anya, I mean Miss?” He enquires.

She moves right up close, her face in his, her breath on his cheek.

“Can I have a sandwich?” She states in breathy whisper.

And then everything begins to fade.

Bec tries desperately to force his way back into the sugar spun dream, thinks about good things; Anya, sandwiches in rows and rows, the sweet chocolate and cream taste of profiteroles, the moment he heard his father was dead, back to Anya and her hand on his arm, walking back to the Tetknee to re-supply, his hand reaching up to grab her neck, to strangle her…


And he’s back in the bakery.

And Anya’s passing him one of her cherries.

The one on the right.

From the top.

It’s covered in cream.

He opens his mouth.

And wakes.

He’s on guard duty, still stuck on the stair, Newt’s who should also be on duty lies at his feet, his eyes twitch and blink- he’s dreaming, Bec thinks.

And puts his tongue away.

And shuts his mouth.

And grins some more.

He looks around- they’re all asleep, all dreaming, eyes fluttering in the half-dark.

Bec smiles, his stomach growls- he’s hungry, he reaches over towards Anya, pulls her cloak over her, then settles back to keep watch.


He whispers.

The sleeping form stirs a moment, smiles a little, and then heads back into the unknown.

Cas shakes violently, it passes.

The other sleepers, one-by-one, follow suit.

Bec snores.

Cas stands again in the pillared Temple, the one with the frescoes they passed through earlier.

A noise.


A rumble constructed from deep guttural snarls and shouts. The door bursts open and Kobolds, and worse, tumble out- all manner of vile abominations, clawed, winged, beaked, taloned, a mish-mash of unholy fiends.

They rush towards him, his blade sings.

And then Ala is by his side, sword drawn.

And then Jim, bow at full extension, arrow notched.

And then Bec, hefting his great club, slapping it into the open palm of his hand.

And then Newt, swiftly slotting a bolt into his crossbow.

And then Anya, who turns to smile at him, and then extends her arm to reveal a wand.

The Kobold Abominations hit them.

And fire, and metal, and wood, and steel strike.

And nothing

The tide is gone.

And yet the noise…

The noise continues.

Cas turns to look behind him, the foul abominations have passed through them, moved on.

Darkness for a second, and then the sudden feeling of weightlessness, he passes through rock and earth and stone, and out, and up.

He floats high above the cavern entrance, the way into this hell.

Below him the hills and forests, the meadows and streams of Lincornshire.

He can see Tetknee.

And the black tide approaching it.

Watches as another tide of foul creature’s spills from the cavern entrance far below, head off towards...

And then another.

And then another.

Until he’s past counting.

Too many.

Darkness for a second, and then he’s back in the Temple.

And the blinding light of Pelor engulfs him.

He falls to one knee, head down, eyes up, trying to catch a glimpse, but he’s blinded by the light.

He feels the sun on his back, his forehead, his face, inside of him, filling his whole being.

A flood of light, of warmth.

Unbidden he stands, looks up, and straight ahead, into the eyes of his maker.

“End it.” Pelor winks.

And then is gone.

Cas wakes.

As do the others.

Anya with the tender caress of her fallen mother’s lips still imprinted on her cheek, the press of her hands, still warm, holding her, cradling her.

Newt with the crinkled feel of gold and jewels, the pucker marks still apparent on his flesh, from his bed of treasure and precious things.

Ala with the parting words of the strange woman she met in the woods, in her dream, still ringing in her ears.

“Stop asking who you are, and start being who you are, you’re stronger, by far, than you, or they, think.”

Ala smiles.

Jim with cool breeze of home on his back, the sweat of honest toil on his brow, and the memory of straw in his hair, his mother’s voice, echoing, calling him in for supper, his fathers arm around his shoulders, around his brothers shoulders- how it used to be.

Bec with his hands clutched around an invisible sandwich taking huge bites, wiping the crumbs away from his mouth.

The adventures look around them, awakened.

They know now what will happen if they fail.

They know what their reward will be.

That life will go, as normal, and they’ll be there to see it.


The door flies open and an enraged Derro, one of the maddened, grizzled, evil Dwarves stands silhouetted in the doorway.

The creature gibbers, squawks and rages, foams at the moth, a collar around its neck.

“Who let the dogs out?”

Newt enquires.


The crossbow trap, set earlier by Jim and Newt, fires- misses.

A second Derro, similarly affected lurches into the chamber.

And there endeth the third session of play in this scenario.

Everyone is now up to level two, I’ll post the stats a little later, they’ve not gained there skills, spells, or special abilities yet- that comes with training.

Next Turn: Grind Finale.


Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 24: Grind Finale

The adventures are quickly up and in a line at the top of the stairs, blocking the way, exactly as seen in Cas’ dream.

Newt and Jim fire.

But to no great effect- neither of the Derro are hit.

“Flame On.”


And the stairs are full of fire- the Derro crisped, charred and very dead.

The adventurers stand about, grinning.

“Well, no time like the present.” Ala gathers up her gear.

The others do likewise.

It’s time to finish this.

Ala finds herself standing next to Newt, she puts out an arm, onto the Gnome’s shoulder, Newt stops, looks up.

“I’m…” She manages.

The bows her head.

“Yeah, so am I… this place.” The Gnome looks around, “It’s… I dunno.” He shivers.

And that’s what passes for a settling of their differences, for now.

The Gang head off, check out the three possible exits they, actually Cas, marched them past yesterday- empty rooms, nothing worth reporting.

It’s day six, the final day, tomorrow they’ll rest, today they’ll fight.

Through the teleporting pillared chamber, and on.

Newt checks the door ahead, nods once- it’s clear.

Cas flings it open.

They goggle at what lies beyond.

Cas flings the door shut again.

“So the room is somehow magically full of blood.” Cas starts.
“Yep, and there seems to be a number of Kobold abominations, heavily armed over the far side of the chamber, somehow floating on the blood tide.” Ala adds.
“Furthermore did you notice the Kobolds this time more resembled the High Priestess, albino, scaled, very Dragon-like.” Newt continues.
“And the one at the very back was obviously their leader, even more Dragon-like, a White Dragon at that, we should expect a cold welcome.” Anya grins.
“I’ll wear my mittens.” Jim finishes and unslings his bow.
“Exactly.” Cas chucks the Ranger on the arm.
“They have the terrain on their side. Answer- don’t go in there.” Cas finishes.
Ala nods, as do the others when they work it out, Bec looks despondent, he’s got nothing to fire or throw.

Thirty seconds later the door is once again flung open.


Bec gets to order the attack.

Cas launches sunrod after sunrod into the chamber, they offer a brief, but startling, at least for the Kobolds, all six of them, illumination.

Jim’s Magic Arrow sails into the chamber, catches one of the Elite Kobolds within off guard, the creature gurgles and sinks beneath the bloody waves.

Newt’s bolt, poisoned- one of half-a-dozen he recovered from the Derro earlier, and meant for the leader type, alas sails wide. As does Ala’s arrow.

“Smidgin.” Anya’s onto her second wand, another of the Elite Kobolds sinks forever.


A Kobold manages to fire his crossbow, the bolt whistles down the narrow corridor and lodges in Anya’s arm- she grits her teeth and fights on.

Baraz, the Barbarian Half-Dragon Kobold Abomination, quickly realises this is not working, his plan is failing, he must protect his master at all costs.

The stumpy winged Barbarian, the most ferocious, vicious, and above all, cunning, of his kind launches himself into the air, and dives forwards into the tunnel entrance, bringing with him a stinging blizzard of frost breath.

Jim, Newt, Anya and Ala are caught in the cold, but shrug it off.


The group of adventurers, in unison, shuffle back- further away from the bloody chamber, and Baraz.


Bec orders.

Jim’s arrow catches Baraz on the shoulder, digs in, blood trickles down. Newt and Ala’s shots sail high and wide.


Anya screams and the corridor is bathed in fire.

Engulfing Baraz, who sizzles slightly as he strides forward, the damn bursts, Baraz Rages and launches himself forward towards his prey.


Bec orders, the group shuffle back again, trying to keep pace with the onrushing Barbarian.

But too late, for Jim, he’s raked across his chest- blood gushes out.

He manages to scramble back again, out of the creatures reach.


A second fan of fire engulfs Baraz.

And yet the creature dashes on.

Bec lurches through the ranks, great club in hand, ready to meet the creatures charge.

Baraz smashes into the giant man, sinks his claws several inches in to the Barbarians chest, and rips free a hunk of flesh.

Bec barely moans, pushes the creature away from him, and punches with his great club- jabs the thing, hard, into the Kobolds face.

Bone splinters and breaks, fragments of his skull lance into his brain, Baraz is no more.

The Abomination flops to the ground.

“Good man.” Cas pats Bec on the arm, as three more of the Elite Kobolds scramble into the corridor ahead.

“Unfinished business.”

Newt steps by them, aims and fires, sinks a crossbow bolt into a Kobold’s skull.


Bec grins and lopes off towards the new intruders, one of the creatures panics, drops his sword, and is crushed, in passing, by the giant Barbarian’s great club. The other faces off with Bec, and lasts less than ten seconds.

His job done, Bec ambles back to the group.

“Can I have Sandwich? Please? Or a cake- something creamy…”
“Not long now.” Ala grins back.
“With a cherry on top.” Bec finishes.

The adventurers gingerly approach the bloody chamber, which proves to be a pain to cross. A bloody tide swells and gathers at the far side, then rushes to their end of the chamber.

“If we time it right.” Anya offers, and then shrugs.

Before they attempt the crossing Anya lets loose with a Detect Magic and discovers another Healing Potion, and the fact that Baraz’s Chain Shirt is magical- they take them both.

And on into the horrid chamber.

Anya, Newt and Jim are caught in the bloody wave, the latter because he’s bobbing about trying to spot his Magic Arrow, the others get through with ease. It takes a good while but, now the threat has gone, they all get through unharmed, eventually. Jim sans arrow- it’s lost forever.

They readjust their kit, and then pass on into another huge, and almost empty, chamber.

There are no other obvious exits, the place is well lit, and all there is to see is a plain and seemingly unadorned Altar in the centre of the chamber, and a wooden store cupboard on the western wall,

How odd.

At least that’s all Jim, Newt and Anya see.

For the others, well… that’s a different matter.

Cas, Ala and Bec have a different vision.

Straight from Hell.


Basalt rock extends to the horizon, there’s no ceiling only the night sky, which is less crowded than they remembered, a single pale star glints in the heavens, casting a pallid glow over the proceedings.

And in the centre of the chamber is a fleshy globe of lashing body parts, mouths mark the surface, they moan and scream.


The globe breaks and spills open, flopping body parts writhe and wriggle; blood, guts and ooze is flung far and wide.

And from the twisted wreck of frenzied flesh strides Tsathzar-Rho, in whose Lost Vault they now stand.

The demonic-looking creature has green scaled skin; a bird like head attached to an overly long neck; awkward, bent legs and two taloned arms that seem to stretch undulate and flow.

Tsathzar-Rho moves towards them, with purpose- their destruction, as it closes they begin to make out the finer details. The creatures organs flop and slap against its skin, they’re on the outside, or are at least for a moment, before being absorbed back into its scaly form, only to be expelled again- second later. The cycle continues.

Tsathzar-Rho is truly revolting.


Cas charges.


Ala follows.

Bec stumbles forward, as if in a trance.

The others stand stock still- look desperately about them.

“Where are they going?” Jim offers.
Newt shrugs, scans ahead- there’s nothing to see.
“What’s going on here? What do you see?” Anya shouts at the back of her charging companions.

Tsathzar-Rho taloned arms snake out to meet the holy duo, Cas ducks, Ala is not so lucky, a bloody trail marks its passing.

Cas’ longsword bites, slices through the creatures side, muck and gunk fly out.

Ala spins away from the creatures taloned arm, her longsword comes full circle, and digs deep into the creatures frame.


The creature screams.

“What was that?” Anya asks.
“I didn’t hear anything.” Jim coolly states.
Newt shakes his head.

Tsathzar-Rho turns his rent side away from his attackers, in the same instant his beaked maw smashes into Ala and rips a chunk of flesh, the size of a fist, from her shoulder- reveals the chipped bone beneath.

Its head snakes up, and gulps the bloody gobbet down.

Ala screams and staggers backwards, barely conscious.

“What the…” Jim offers, having just witnessed much of Ala’s shoulder suddenly disappear.


Cas screams.

“It’s an illusion.” Anya states.

And so it is.

Anya and Newt see it all, they rush towards the terrifying vision.

Jim stand statue, “Hey, where are you going? What’s there?” The last innocent.


The voice ancient, unhurried, and yet provoked.

It’s inside their heads, blocking out everything else.

Except for Jim.

“You guys, what’s going on- is this some kind of joke?”

Next Turn: Grand Finale, Part Two- Jim’s Surprise Party.


I agree with the others, I think your being a little hard on yourself. I'm enjoying two of your story hours (lost boys) and I like that they are both very different from one another both in player ability and actions and in tone. The other makes me laugh a little more, but I like the gameplay elements that come through with the experienced group as well. Hope to see more from both.

Goonalan said:
I'll press on, the stuff that you're reading now is from a while back, I keep good notes though, the SH so far posted represents less than a quarter of the action. The present posts are from the second Goodman Games scenario, the players (note I didn't say characters) are just finishing their ninth Goodman Games scenario- there's lots more of this to come.

Glad to hear it. :D


I think you're all mad, but I thank you kindly for your comments. I'm going to try something a little different when I get to the end of the turns I've already written up- which coincides with the end of the next adventure (not this one).

Anyway, more of the same...

And thanks again.

Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 25: Grand Finale, Part Two- Jim’s Surprise Party.

Newt dashes forward towards the horrendous beast, crossbow in hand, crouches and settles for a second, stares again at the poison bolt he has loaded.


A direct hit, the bolt buries itself in the creature’s chest.


Tsathzar-Rho screams as the poison ravages him, staggers, and yet remains standing. The creature lashes out a taloned arm at Ala, she ducks the blow, and skitters out of the creatures reach.

She pumps healing energies into herself, she grimaces as her shoulder mends, then straightens- ready to rejoin the fight.


Anya’s wand sings; the Magic Missile however barely leaves a mark on the creature.

Cas slashes at the creatures clawed foot, scores a direct hit, leaving a bloody trail of his swords passing, the creature hops backwards slightly.


Bec shakes his head, swats invisible flies, then storms forward and delivers a devastating two-handed blow, with all his might.

Right to the back of Ala’s head.

The Cleric slumps to the ground, blood pouring from the rent in the back of her skull.

“What the…”

Jim sees this, rushes over, and launches himself at Bec. The giant man backs off and drops to a fighting stance.


But there’s no one home.

Bec swings again, Jim dodges aside at the last second.

“Akkat”, Anya points Swish at Bec, the broom hops over to attack- with its usual lack of effect. Anya coats herself in her Mage Armour, shimmers in the lone-starlight.


Newt’s crossbow bolt sails well wide of the Abomination, although it only misses Cas by inches, he gulps and makes a mental note to aim better next time.

“Calm down Bec… Calm down.” Jim offers.
His words seem to have an immediate effect, Bec lowers his great club.
“Give me the club… Come on, you don’t want to hurt anyone else.”
Bec, as meek as a lamb now, hands the weapon over.

Tsathzar-Rho lashes out but Cas meets the creatures attacks with his shield and sword, deflects both blows aside.

Bec knocks Swish aside, the broom skitters a good fifteen feet away, then hops up and heads on back to the fray.

Anya bends down over the fallen Ala, pours two healing potions into the stricken Cleric, she coughs and splutters, then opens her eyes.

“What happened?”
“Later.” Anya states.

Cas slashes again, catches Tsathzar-Rho’s leg again, only a small cut this time but enough to make the creature back away further.


Bec screams and forearm smashes Jim, who staggers backwards, but quickly recovers his senses, rushes back in, grapples Bec, as best he can, which turns out to be badly. Jim changes tack, releases his grip, and shuffles back, swings his right foot hard- up into Bec’s cobblers.


The big guy staggers backwards, clutching at the affected area.

“I want this all to stop, you’re frightening me. Stop it.” Jim splutters.



Cas is sliced across his chest, Tsathzar-Rho chirrups and grins.

“Sooooooon be overrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”

It’s voice in Cas’ brain.

“Damn.” Newt reloads, another miss.

Ala levers herself to her feet, Anya’s moved on, she mumbles a prayer and lo and behold- her sword glows and pulses, becomes, temporarily, a Magic Weapon. She shuffles forward, dragging her longsword behind her- it’s heavy and she’s weak still.


Anya has run around to the rear of the creature, she sends a gout of flame into the beasts back.


It screams as its flesh chars and cinders.


Bec forgets his hurt, turns tail, and staggers away from all the confusion- further into the massive chamber, punch-drunk, he trips on. Jim follows, cautious.

“Bec. BEC. What is it?”

Bec continues wandering.

One of Tsathzar-Rho’s clawed arms lashes out, smashes into Ala’s forehead, cuts it wide-open, blood cascades down her face, in her eyes, nose and mouth.

“You bastard.” She staggers back, catches herself and surges forward again.

Cas darts in, swings high, wide and handsome- spots Ala out of the corner of his eye.



Another bolt sails wide.


Newt drops his crossbow, useless bloody thing; quick draws his heavy mace and charges into the melee.

Tsathzar-Rho lashes again at Cas, the attack is deflected by his shield- which is starting to get very heavy in his hands; it’s second attack misses Ala, but Ala doesn’t miss it- slashes with all her might and takes the last six inches or so off one of the creatures incredibly flexible taloned arms.


It hauls in the damaged limb.

Tsathzar-Rho realises then that the battle is lost, and so launches itself forward again, abandoning defence for all out fury.


Jim screams at Bec, exasperated.

The giant man turns to face Jim, gibbers, looks away, then back again to the centre of the chamber where the hellish abomination makes its last stand.

Bec points.

Jim turns to look- and sees for the first time the real chamber.


He manages, then.

“Come on.”

The Ranger grabs hold of Bec’s leather jerkin and drags him along.


Bec imitates.

Newt stands before the creature as it flails and smashes- in frenzy, waves his mace ineffectively, swishes once, and then faced with nowhere else to go rolls straight through the creature’s legs, and emerges unscathed.

Tsathzar-Rho’s elongated neck snakes down to follow the Gnomes path, intent on taking a bite out of the unarmoured combatant.


Ala cuts clean through the Abominations neck, the creature’s head flops onto the ground, the body is wracked by a St. Vitus dance, then rushes head long forward, smashing past Ala and Cas, cannons into a wall, staggers left and continues to smash its way around the chamber, careening off walls.

Ala drops her sword. Cas rushes to her.

“You... I want a word with…”

She points at Bec, who looks suitably ashamed- cringes, scared, then Ala fades and falls… into Cas’ arms.
The Outer Realm, the home of Tsathzar-Rho, fades away, and thirty seconds later they’re back in an emptyish room, save the black unadorned Altar, and the store cupboard- not a sign of their passing, or the final battle with the Abomination, Tsathzar-Rho, the creature simply fades from sight.

There’s a ring, and several potion flasks in the storage cupboard- all of which detect as magical, and a small, but ultimately valuable, supply of silver, gold, diamond and mithril dust.

Two hours later the group emerges back into the light, it’s raining, and head back to Tetknee.

“I love the rain, don’t you?”
Cas nods, and kisses Ala.

Bec, rushes forward to the divine duo, he has something in his hand, he puts his head down- proffers his gift, a bunch of wild flowers, Ala takes them and smiles at the huge Barbarian.

“I know you didn’t mean it.”

She squeezes his hand, and then walks on with Cas, who smiles back at Bec.

Jim, Anya and Newt catch up with Bec.

“So what you gonna do with your share of the money?” Jim asks.
Newt smiles, Anya giggles.
“For Anya.” Bec finishes.
Anya reddens.

The six head home.

Next Turn: Review.


Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Overall score out of 10: 5.3
Play time: Approx 12 bloody hours.


Less liked than the first scenario, this one hung in there, forever laying one or another of the party members low, it became a war of attrition very quickly in the second session of play. It also became necessary for me to adjust the damage done by all of the Kobolds, the scenario quotes damage stats for medium weapons instead of small weapons, which the Kobolds should be wielding. The problem is, what with the Kobold’s high AC, the best fighter in the party has only a 25% chance of hitting, this chance is reduced to, on average, 15% for the other party members. The Kobolds have a similar chance of hitting the PCs, and there are lots of them, and there are other monsters with better chances to hit.

The players commented on conclusion that it would have taken perhaps two sessions tops to play through the scenario, and would encourage much more open play, if the Kobold’s stat blocks had been left alone, at least have done with the AC 19 Footmen which made up a majority of their adversaries.

The overall scenario, asks more questions than it answers, particularly of the DM- see below. That said the finale proved, for its chaotic conclusion, to be almost worth the wait.

Notes and Quotes:

The Ogre proved a fair start, and from the outset demonstrated to the players their ability, like Mr. R. said in the last scenario, sort of- when you know what’s ahead it’s lots easier, and thus it proved to be for the Ogre- dead in two rounds.

The passage from the Ogres cave into the Vault of Tsathzar-Rho was expected, at least something was bound to be there, after all I hadn’t encouraged the players to put away the Take Away food menus.

All players expressed their preference for Stirges, they had indeed felt cheated that Stirges didn’t play a part in their first adventure.

They also liked the way up into the scenario, the climb, an entrance into the unknown that takes effort to get too, not often do you get this at lower level.

The initial contact with the Kobolds was equally terrifying and exciting- particularly as Mr. W. (Newt) was on his own at the time, perhaps the first time ever he was glad to see Mr. R. (Cas).

Mr. W. (Newt)- “I’m sorry, I said I was sorry… now get up here.”
Mr. R. (Cas) just sits there grinning, a smile you want to punch.

Likewise the trek into the river cavern leading to the party split was most enjoyable; all the fighters running off to leave a first level Rogue, Magic User and Cleric facing off against four Dire Rats and six heavily armoured Kobolds, it felt like adventuring. This mirrored by the warriors own calumny- fighting half-a-dozen more Kobolds, and the Kobold Wizard, complete with Magic Missile Wand and Burning Hands spell, which resulted in just Bec left standing. It felt like heaven to this lowly DM, every dice roll monitored, and not just by the roller, players screaming at each other-

Mrs. R. (Ala)- “Shut up, and just bloody hit it.”

That kind of thing- good work, I really thought at this point it was going to be a cracker.

This of course lead to the first marital tiff, Mrs R. (Ala) enquiring of Mr. R. (Cas).

Mrs. R. (Ala)- “What the bloody hell do you think you were doing running off?”
Mr. R. (Cas)- “I…”

Particularly amusing, the Paladin getting told off, scratch that, scolded, by the Cleric- like a naughty schoolboy.

And so the adventurers make it to the river, after first looting the Kobold Wizard and getting away with a new Wand of Magic Missiles for Miss P. (Anya), and a Pearl of Power I (Anya, again), and Bracers of Armour +1 (Bec).

Newt had also been robbing the remainder of the party blind at this point with the three-fingered pendants- good work.

And so the first session ended with high hopes.

The second session starts ok; they all see the logic of the return to Tetknee for supplies, after Cas has explained it to them.

The destruction of the Fire Beetles, six in total, was easy, more of a distraction- and good solid first level dungeon fodder. The Darkmantle was also an enjoyable encounter, if only for Miss E.’s (Bec) natural ‘20’. The fighting milk-maid dollies wouldn’t go away for a while, mainly because of their hardness and the difficulty of the environment.

The session then went from okay to stuffed, very quickly, they liked the Giant Spider, they stopped liking it however when Cas got bitten to buggery and ended up with a Strength score of around ‘7’, but I guess that’s there look out.

This lead on to them landing on the Undead side of the street, the Ghoul proved good fun, particularly when they decided to use Newt as live bait, actually I think he suggested it.

The graveyard area likewise proved to be a good fight; that is until they started to count the cost- the hits they’d taken in making the place into their new lair, the spells, and Turning attempts they’d expended in the effort.

A rest stop was inevitable, as I’ve said about first level characters, one bad fight, or even two fair ones, with some bad dice rolls and your scuppered for a while.

Mr. R. liked his Magic Sword though.

Rested they returned, and kicked ass, only to be laid low again. Two dozen Kobolds may not seem like much of a fight but wrap them in mail and give them crossbows, and good pluses to hit and they all become potential death traps. I understand it’s not meant to be easy, but at first level it’s hard to make a grind like this sustainable, and yet here we are. So the majority of the session was spent in a dice rolling fury, admittedly this was teaching some of my players a useful lesson, again.

As Mr. R. also said last time, you leave your best stuff/moves for the big bad guy at the end- which results in players being insulted by being held to a draw, almost, by a bunch of lowly Kobolds, while all the time trying not to expend their favourite one-shots. Miss. P. however was going through her Magic Missile Wand at one charge per round, every round.

So they kicked some ass.

Then met up with the Derro and their poisoned crossbow bolts- result two dead Derro but also Cas back on Strength ‘8’, Bec on a little more, and Ala hovering on 1 HP, and most of the others still wounded- and two of them holding out on the Healing Potions, particularly Mr. W. (Newt) who had four of them stashed away.

Result- they go back to bed for a day, the second session draws to a close and they’re liking the scenario less and less.

It needs to be said that I made a judgement call in letting the players remain holed up in the hidden graveyard because-

1. It was hidden, and hard to get to.
2. The Kobolds were without leadership- uncoordinated.
3. The Kobolds do not stray from their positions.
4. The Kobolds feared the Undead that occupied this section, and avoided it.
5. The Kobolds don’t have any more rafts.

This however allowed the PCs to correctly presume that this area was safe, and therefore allow them to get through the rest of the scenario knowing that they had somewhere to run and hide in.

On to the third session, which started out as fun but drifted into another heavy dice rolling session.

And so like professionals they adapt to survive, they’re ready for the Kobolds this time around, Bec Rages, Newt flings Thunderstones, Ala summons a Badger (which only slows things down but hey-ho). They rip through the first set of Kobolds.

And then Miss E. (Bec) does a runner, which is what he always does when his Rage is still going- looking for something else to smash.

This led to another fight with a Kobold Wizard, his guards, and a bunch of Elite Kobolds, which would have been more fun if the Kobolds had been something less Koboldy, although their look had changed they remained the same one hit to kill bad guys. Thus the only dice roll that mattered was the To Hit roll, there was no sense of it being a big fight- not enough leader types, the two wizards encountered so far rocked, they both hung around. In between times it was very short rounds, five people roll to hit, missile or melee, maybe one or two succeed, Anya shoots one dead with her wand. If a Kobold hits it does approx two points of damage- there wasn’t the same feeling of danger being generated. This may, once again, have been down to the parties head on approach but circumstances also worked against them at times.

This was also the start of the shadows, and random Will saves for the players, this an effect of the scenario, the growing terror- which, the saves which served to slow down play a little more, were almost always passed- inevitably the only time the players rolled anything good, anything that was guaranteed to hit the Kobolds.

Miss P. (Anya) is also quids in again with the Spellbook, and another Wand, this time of Burning Hands.

They press on to the Lemure’s, and they’re more like it, the sense of danger is palpable, particularly as the players get to exchange blows with the creatures, simply put- they stick around for a little while.

The chamber with the Portals to the Elemental Planes received a mixed reaction, some players felt it epitomised all that is bad about the ‘old school’ scenarios, they want to believe that this sort of sophisticated magic awaits them at later levels, yes it was just a trap, but it was all a bit too much like the scenario was trying to do everything- throw the kitchen-sink at them. It was also the time that Miss E. (Bec) failed her saving throw with the lowest number on the die, which led to the invention of the toasted cheese sandwich- so at least some good came of it.

If Bec hadn’t have failed his save then they would have worked their way around the possible traps, probably without injury, by using the Kobold notes provided, and, of course, Miss P. (Anya) ends up with the Necklace of Fireballs.

Then they rest up again- undisturbed.

I thought I was going to enjoy the attack of the Bird Kobolds but the Burning Hands Wand soon put paid to my fun, particularly galling as I’d just got a nice critical on Mr. A. (Jim).

And then the Dragonkin Kobold on the stairs down- lovely, it put up a fight, why not have weaker Kobolds throughout and more boss type creatures, with more Hit Points.

That said they loved the Pod room, and torching it, a ‘that’s why we’re here’ moment.

Likewise the Kobold High Priestess’ fleshy chamber went down well, once again the fact that the Kobold Priestess was a major enemy was much appreciated- the player’s sense of achievement-ometer went up several notches. Ala’s coming good, the critical certainly left a smile on everyone’s face, except perhaps Miss E. (Bec), who once again fell foul of her terrible Saving Throw (Will -1).

The next fight went better for me, the Teleportation pillars were, as the players said later, ‘cheesy’, but they didn’t half shake them up, particularly when the second Dragonkin Kobold appeared behind them; Mr. A. (Jim) was right.

I’d also planted some seeds here, notes had been passed throughout the game, and e-mails sent out of game- Mrs. R. (Ala) was starting to crack- parts of the scenario’s plan were at least working. The scenario calls for a sense of paranoia, which wasn’t really getting through to the players. I’d primed Bec, Newt and Ala earlier and they’d got some nice role-playing in- setting up divisions within the party. The problem was the endless supply of Kobolds which produced long sessions of dice-rolling.

However this was the first time the group had elected to sleep in the spooky part of the scenario- and thus the dream sequence, the Gods intervene and send them a renewed sense of hope, and a Bless spell.

A little late in the day perhaps, they were all but finished, then again that’s probably the best time to do it.

And so the third session came to a close, and with the players feeling happier for the extra Hit Points and improved To Hit that comes at Level 2.

The fourth, and final, session started well with the slaying of the maddened Derro, this time Newt remembered about the crossbows and located some poisoned bolts- which would prove to be worth their weight in gold later.

The water room, sorry- blood tide chamber, was a bit too silly, and easily overcome- don’t go in there, shoot them. The Kobolds lead by a no-brain Barbarian fell into the players trap, and were destroyed, although Baraz, the leader, got in some good hits.

Which leaves the climax, which was either great or terrible, depending on which player you ask.

Mr. R. (Cas)- “Loved it.”
Mrs. R. (Ala)- “Same.”
Miss P. (Anya)- “Good-ish.”
Mr. W. (Newt)- “I hit once, when it mattered, and then never again- bloody dice.”
Miss E. (Bec)- “Oh great, I brained Ala.”
Mr. A. (Jim)- “Rubbish, I didn’t even get to see it until is was all over.”

And so Jim who passed his Will saving throw every time didn’t actually see what was going on in the room until it was all over. Cas and Ala on the other hand were in the mix from the very beginning, and Ala’s critical proved to be a fitting ending, particularly as she’d been brained by Bec- who didn’t enjoy the finale at all, for obvious reasons. Newt’s poisoned crossbow bolt reduced Tsathzar-Rho’s Strength score to ‘9’, without any Secondary Poison Damage being rolled, so it could have been worse. This reduced the creatures To Hit pluses dramatically making its death inevitable. Still that falls under the category of good play.

Overall there were some good bits however, the two trap rooms at the end, Teleporting Pillars and the Blood Tide were deemed silly, just plain daft, reminiscent of some of the bad dungeon features of 1st edition. Which is of course what the designer/writer was aiming for, probably. The Kobolds were a little too difficult, and felt unsatisfactory, particularly as there were so many of them. That said the leader types were always fun.

Perhaps my players are just whingers, perhaps I am too, regardless the scenario became repetitive in the middle section- and took too long to complete.

Next Turn: Grimbo


Turn 26: Grimbo.

Tetknee proves to be a disappointment, sure they get a couple of days bed rest but how much more is there to do in a one-horse village, with one pub, and a church devoted to some ‘Green Man’ Oerth Father/Mother, have you seen the size of my marrow, type deity, and little else. They adventurers have already received their reward, and the fact that an encampment of Abominations had settled on the doorstep of the small village is kept a secret.

The Goodman Gang soon grow tired of Tetknee and hop a cart into the bright lights and big city of Grimbo.

Grimbo, for the uninitiated is, well for the uninitiated it’s a death trap, with a smiling gap-toothed face and breath that stinks of fish stew, sick and booze. Obviously it has its chattering classes, but these are vastly outnumbered by the thousands that earn their daily wage in some sort, actually any sort, of nefarious, illegal, illicit, or just plain shameful trade.

On the North-East coast of the United Kingdoms Grimbo sits, or rather squats, home to nearly seven thousand lost souls, a fishing port, yeah right… like the only thing that arrives on boats are fish. Grimbo is a smuggler’s port, a fence’s port, a drunkard’s port, a pirate’s port, a fornicator’s port, a… and all the rest. It is in short the home to a very extreme, sometimes blunt, sometimes pointy, form of capitalism. You want it- I got it- you pay, or, I want it- you got it- you die; that kind of thing.

You can buy anything with gold here, including an early grave.

And so look out Grimbo, here come the Goodman Gang.

“Passport?” The gate guard wanders over to Cas, “Passport?”
“Passport? Have you got your Passport?”
Cas shrugs turns to Ala, and the others.
“I’m sorry.”
“You not got your Passport?” The gate guard leers.
“I don’t seem to…” Cas starts.
“What Passport?” Anya enquires.
“Y’needs a Passport these days- Council orders, every citizen, tell who’s bad from good- see.” The guard gets out a stub of a pencil and fragment of parchment, stares at the assembled adventurers.

“We don’t seem to have any Passports?”
“WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEwwwwwwwwwwwwww.” The gate guard sucks in air.

“Is there anything you can do?” Cas enquires.

Fifteen minutes later they’re at the head of the queue.

A different gate guard stands before them, although he looks familiar.

“Gate Tax, five silver each.”

He takes the proffered money, and shoves them on.

They’ve gone twenty or so feet when Cas comes to a dead halt, he turns back.

“I say, don’t you want to see our Passports?”
“Our Passports, we paid three gold coins each for them, actually we pick them up from the Passport Office tomorrow morning, I’m to tell you this… I’ve got it all written down.”
Cas fumbles for his piece of paper.

The guard wanders over.

“Give me that.” He grabs the paper from Cas’ hand.

Then laughs- straight from the belly.

“What’d he look like, the guy that sold you these Passports?”

The others, now interested, wander over.

“Actually, he looked a lot like you.”

The guard laughs again.

“Well you don’t need no Passport, me Lord, you’ve been had.”
“Duped. Now get back in there before I make you pay again.” The gate guard points into the city.
“You can’t… hang on you know who this man is don’t you?” Cas states.
“So I want you to arrest him.”
“I don’t think you do.”
“Oh I do”, Cas looks for a rank on the gate guard- finds none, “soldier, I want him arrested now.”
“I don’t think you do- for two reasons.
One- you said he looks like me, well he would do- he’s my brother.
Two- he’s also my boss, in fact he’s the head of the whole bloody watch.
Now are you going to go in or…”

The Paladin and the others quick foot it into the city.

“Well you showed him there.” Jim offers.

Cas and Ala​

Grimbo is also home to the second largest Church of Pelor in the whole of Lincornshire, the largest Church of Pelor, actually a Cathedral, is in Lincorn itself.

Cas soon finds his way to the Church, and with Ala in tow- the two are staying together, sharing a room if you will, at the Wellow Inn, the Innkeeper Malchor makes them feel at home- Mr. & Mrs. Smith indeed, in Gleethorpe, or as it’s known to the locals, Meggies. Gleethorpe is an addendum to Grimbo, a small village that has grown up just outside of the sprawl of Grimbo- a home to the thinkers and dreamers, it even has a shoddy little beach- complete with fun fair, market- mostly costly tat and vegetables, and donkey-rides up and down the sands, about 400 yards in total for a gold-a-go.

Anyway, the Church of Pelor, St. Jimbo’s, is overseen by Father Whiskin, a friendly old Dwarf. Cas has a story to tell, so he tells it, Ala adds details of their second adventure- Father Whiskin doesn’t doubt their tale for a second, “Chaos and Evil is on the up-and-up”, is how he puts it, “you only have to go out at night to see that.”

“So is there anything we can do?” Cas finishes.
“Not really.” Is the short answer, Father Whiskin will however stay in touch.

They conclude their business at the Church, Cas donates half his earnings to date- so much for the Full Plate then, and the pair head back into the city to see the sights.

Father Whiskin, for his part, has also agreed to straighten things out at the Seminary in Lincorn, the one that Cas did a bunk from to be with Ala, and Ogre-shaped danger, or so it seems.

It is also agreed that Cas will complete his training at the Church, for which he pays a further sum of money, and that the Church will supply discounted Potions of Healing, should Cas, or Ala for that matter, need them on any further adventures.

Anya & Newt​

Anya and Newt take a detour, once they’ve established themselves; they’re staying at the Wheatsheaf Inn, on Bargate, in Grimbo itself, although it’s in the nicer part of city. The pair enrol on short courses in basic alchemy, they also get access to the labs at Grimbo College, or GC for short, situated in an old Nunnery just a little way up the road from their Inn.

Once there Anya also gains access to the Department of Magic’s, run by Nudge Toombs, a balding Gnome of very senior years, her Mage training will be completed here, all for a price of course.

Newt has to look slightly further afield, actually across the road, to Nunsthorpe, an area within Grimbo known for its violence, thievery and rough justice- the Nunny, as its known, is also home to the largest and best organised Thieves Guild in Grimbo, known as- The Nunny, funnily enough, whose members are called Munties, or Townies, or, very simply, Chavs- the latter usually applied to the better dressed, and infinitely more violent, members of the organisation. Newt soon finds a friend.

“Yer not frum arownd ear, r u boy?”
“Firstly, I’m not a boy, I’m a Gnome, secondly- no, I’m not from around here, which is obvious to anyone with the slightest bit of intelligence, for I am not a bandy legged, gap-toothed goon with a penchant for misery and murder.”

Time passes, then the Townie, gets it- he’s been insulted.

“Hey… yew wanna watch wha yer sayin, else yule see my blayd.”
“Really… I’ll raise your blade for my Bec.”
“Sandwich.” Bec hoves into view, catches the Townie in one great hand, and picks him up, shakes him a little.
“Now put him down please Bec. Sorry about that, now… The Nunny, where can I find them?”
“You’ve found them.”

Several hours later Newt is buying everybody drinks in a basement bar in a deserted looking house in Nunsthorpe, Bec has gone to find Jim, he’s served his purpose- money talks it seems.

By the end of the evening deals have been done and Newt is enrolled on another course- Thievery 102. He’s also paid his guild dues for the next year, or thereabouts- he’s in good books. He also gains access to other resources, not the least of which is information, although also included are friendly fences, moneychangers, reduced rate potion vendors and other services.


Bec meets Wally, Wally runs a pub in Meggies called, “The Swashbuckle”, which is a spit and sawdust style establishment. Wally is also a retired adventurer, a Barbarian to boot; Bec takes employment, briefly, at the place- it serves as payment for his Barbarian training, which consists of lots of nothing with brief bursts of extreme violence.

“So ya wanna be a Barbarian?” Wally asks.
Bec nods.
“You’d have to be a… thingy… you know… short of a picnic to do that.”
“Sandwich.” Bec states.
“That’s it- you’re in.” Wally finishes.

Jim & Ala​

Meet up early on in their stay in Grimbo and head out of the city, only a few miles, to the village of Great Coats, a small Elven contingent lingers there, which includes a Chapel devoted to Correllan, led by Matriach Parkerts. Great Coats is also home to a unit of mixed race Rangers which train in Weelsby and Bradley Woods, a specialised unit of the Lincorn Militia, simply known as “The Backwoodsmen.” Needless to say the two sort out their training.

In conclusion​

Time passes much more slowly, the players establish themselves in their various residences, complete training, do a lot of buying and selling; they catch up with each other every now and then.

One such night finds them in the restaurant of the Wellow Inn, named after the ancient, well… Well, a little away from the Inn- which dates back to the original founding of the village of Gleethorpe, before it was surrounded by the sprawl of Grimbo.

The food is good, way better than anything Newt, Bec and Jim have ever tasted, they’re all on best behaviour. Malchor, the Innkeeper, stands in the background, proud of his table.

“So I asked you to join us tonight”, Cas makes eyes at Ala, who blushes a little, “because it seems we may have another job here.”
“What’s it about?” Newt asks, trying to poke his little finger out while he totes his spoon, slurps soup.
“Well, ah hah hah… that’s a joke.” Cas smiles, Ala forces a grin.
“Whaff?” Jim asks mouth stuffed with bread.
“You mean the robberies.” Anya states.
“Yes?” Cas replies.
“I’ve heard the story, there’s supposed to be something down the Well not so far from here, something that emerges at night, or at least some nights, to steal and kill.” Anya concludes and finishes her soup, “a little too salty, but not bad.”
Cas nods.

And then a vision of loveliness floats towards their table, Lady Arabella, twenty years of age, and a stunning beauty, if a little dim.

“Arabella.” Cas rises, bows and mid-way is embraced- warmly.
Ala stares daggers.

The table rearranges itself, Jim tries desperately to straighten his shirt, it’s not been ironed. Newt grins. Bec eats on- fairly oblivious, grabs at and takes Cas’ bread roll, and gulps it down in one mouthful. Anya watches Bec but pays no heed. A seventh chair is brought up by the waiting staff and Lady Arabella is made comfortable next to Cas.

She rests her hand on the Paladin’s thigh.

“Well this is a treat.” She begins.
“Cazzy- who are all these, lovely, people?”
“I’m Newt my Lady.” Newt kisses the proffered hand.
“Oh lovely, are you a Dwarf?” She giggles.
“A Gnome.” Newt thumps down into his chair, swigs from his wine.
“Oh how lovely.” She turns to Cas, “They’re pretty much the same thing aren’t they Cazzy?”
Cas looks elsewhere.
“I’m J… J… J… Ji… Ji… Ji…JiJiJiJiJIM.” Jim spits, “Me La… La…LAYdee.”
Jim sits back down, catching the edge of the table cloth and tipping the remains of his soup into his lap.
“Oh quickly.” Arabella grabs a cloth and dabs the spill- Jim alternatively grins and grimaces- thirty seconds later he’s relaxed and smoking a cigarette.
“And you’re a what?” Arabella asks.
“I’m a human.” Jim states, confident, almost certain.
“No silly- what are you; I’d guess you’re a wizard?”
“No, I’m a woodsman, a Ranger lady, I don’t mean a Ranger lady, I mean I’m a Ranger, lady. I’m a man. Not a lady. And a Ranger lady. I mean…”
“Oh.” Arabella shakes then sniffs her hand, her smile slipping, settles for wiping her hand on a cloth.
“That’s nice. And you- you’re an Elf aren’t you, I can tell, do you know how I know?” Arabella turns to Ala.
“No, I can’t wait- I’m all ears.” Ala monotones back.
“It’s your ears silly.” Arabella reaches out to grab one of Ala’s ears- to give it a playful tug.
Ala has other thoughts, slaps Arabella’s hand away.
“Sorry. I was trying to get the salt.” Ala grins.
Lady Arabella cradles her reddening hand, shakes it- lifeless.
“Cassy.” She grabs for the Paladin, hooks one arm around his shoulders, the other dangles before the Paladin’s face.
“Kissy Wissy Cassy Wassy.”
The Paladin puckers up, staring hard at Ala, kisses the proffered hand.
“That’s better. And what are you- oh I do like your jewellery, very… ethnic.”
Arabella is staring at Ala’s silver-moon holy symbol of Correllon.
“I’m a Priestess of Correllon, the Keeper and Maker of the Elves, the Divine Storyteller, the…” But she gets no further.
“Oh that’s lovely, simply lovely… How nice, and you?” Arabella stares at Bec.
Who seems to see her for the first time, he’s on his fifth bread roll.

Bec looks non-plussed at the proffered hand.

“Can I have Sandwich?”

Bec delicately splits a roll and encloses Arabella’s hand in the now buttered halves- grabs and brings the newly created sandwich towards his mouth.

Arabella shrieks a little and withdraws her buttered hand smartly from the bun.

Bec bites down, chews, oblivious- mouth open, he tries to smile and masticate- it doesn’t look good.

“My word.” Arabella wipes her hand.
“Er that’s Bec, he’s the muscle.”
“And what muscle.” Arabella smooths a hand up and down Bec’s forearm.
Bec grins and chews on.

“And I’m Anya Lady Arabella, the Wizard, we’re all so very pleased to meet you. Now, and I’m guessing here- so help me out if you can, I’m guessing it’s you that wants us to head down the well.”

Arabella looks shocked.

“My word- you are a brainy one aren’t you. Still you can’t have everything, that’s what my dear father used to say.”

It goes silent for a while.

“Go on, the job?” Anya sighs.
“Oh yes. Well since I’m now the Council member for Gleethorpe…”

Several members of the Goodman Gang swallow hard.

“You’re a Council member?” Anya asks.
“Oh yes, ever since Daddy died- he was very popular. Anyway there have been some terrible happenings around the area, near the Inn, and I was thinking that something should be done about it- so I went to the Council to see whose responsibility it is… And you’ll never guess what they said?”
“Yours.” Anya states.

“Oh, Pelor be blessed, you have got a lot of brains. Yes, that’s right- so I thought what should I do, and for a while I couldn’t think of anything… and then, well”, Lady Arabella stares up at Cas, flutters her eyelashes, and heaves her ample bosom, “then I saw Cassy.”
“Good old Cassy.” Ala cheers.
“Well yes, and I thought he’d know what to do.”
Cas smiles, awkwardly, as Lady Arabella rubs herself against him, oblivious to the looks of other members of the party.

“May I be excused?” Ala doesn’t wait for an answer, and is gone, Cas pleading with his eyes, but too late.

“And so”, Cas straightens, levering Lady Arabella away a little, “and so it’s up to us to head below and try to find the source of this violence… Excuse me.”
Cas gets up and swiftly follows Ala from the restaurant, and to their room, he’s late for a argument.

“Oh.” Lady Arabella looks a little forlorn.

“We’ll do it.” Newt offers his hand, Arabella shakes it slightly unsure, still looking around for Cassy.

Newt moves Arabella round so that she has Bec to lean on, the Gnome places her hand on Bec’s thigh; think corded muscle, deeply tanned, and as hard as a rock.

Bec chews on, oblivious.

“Now let’s talk money.” Newt enquires.

Some time later a fee is agreed, a thousand gold coins will be paid for the end of the terror, Newt concludes the deal.

Malchor, the Innkeeper, waves them goodnight, they’re the last of the late drinkers in the bar, sighs and sets to cleaning up the mess they’ve left behind, and no tip.

Next Turn: Who’s who?
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And that Grimbo sounds a lovely place ...

Tell me about it, I live there... I mean here. The campaign locale is a modified version of Lincolnshire, my home county, I've adapted the place names slightly- I particularly like some of the names in the area- Goole has become Ghoul, you can guess what lives there; and further afield, the Isle of Wight becomes... well, the Isle of Wights.

I'll post the map when I get it scanned in right, see Google Maps here for the source-




Dungeon Crawl Classics #11
The Dragonfiend Pact
For 2nd Level Characters​

Turn 27: Who’s who?

“Jim” Bowen​

Human Male Ranger Level 2
NG HP 23 AC 18 Init +2
Str 14 Dex 15 Con 14 Int 12 Wis 12 Ch 10
Saves Fort +6 Ref +4 Will +2
+1 Battleaxe (family heirloom) +5 d8+3
Longbow (Masterwork Mighty (+2)) +5 d8+2 or Rapid Fire +3/+3
Dagger, Silver +4 or +4 d4+2
Armour: Griffin insignia Masterwork Breastplate and Light Wooden Shield.

Feats: Skill Focus (Trapmaking), Point Blank Shot, Track, Favoured Enemy- Dire Animals, Ranger Two-Weapon Fighting & Ambidexterity, Rapid Shot.

Skills of note: Animal Empathy +4 Climb +4 Craft (Trapmaking) +6 Handle Animal +4 Hide +6 Jump +5 Knowldege (Nature) +3 Listen +4 Move Silently +6 Spot +3 Wilderness Lore +6

Items of note: Potion Cure Lt x4; Potion Darkvision; Cloak of Resistance +1.


Human Male Barbarian Level 2
CG HP 31 AC 15 Init +1
Str 18 Dex 12 Con 18 Int 11 Wis 8 Ch 9
Saves Fort +7 Ref +1 Will -1
Long Spear +6 d8+6
Dagger +6 or +3 d4+4
Greatclub +6 d10+6
Longsword Masterwork +7 d8+4 (usually with Large Wooden Shield)
Greatsword Masterwork Cold Iron +7 2d6+6
Armour: Studded Leather Masterwork, sometimes Large Wooden Shield.

Feats: Toughness, Power Attack, Rage, Cleave & Uncanny Dodge.

Skills of note: Climb +9 Concentration +4 Jump +8 Ride +3 Spot +3 Swim +8 Use Rope +4

Items of note: Climbers Kit, Potion Cure Lt x4, Potion Blur, Bracers of Armour +1.

Lord Casimir​

Human Male Paladin of Pelor Level 2
LG HP 23 AC 17 Init +1
Str 15 Dex 13 Con 14 Int 14 Wis 11 Ch 14
Saves Fort +7 Ref +3 Will +4
+1 Longsword Cold Iron +5 d8+3
Longbow +3 d8
Light Mace +4 d6+2
Armour: Shiny Breastplate & Sparkling Light Steel Shield

Feats: Negotiator, Dodge, Mobility, Detect Evil, Lay on Hands, Divine Health, Smite Evil, Aura of Courage.

Skills of note: Concentration +3 Diplomacy +9 Handle Animal +6 Knowledge (History) +5 Knowledge (Local) +7 Knowledge (Religion) +6 Ride +5 Sense Motive +6 Spot +4

Items of note: 3 Flasks of Holy Water, 5 Silver Arrows, Potion of Cure Light Wounds x4, Potion of Vision.


Human Female Wizard Level 2
CG HP 14 AC 14 Init +5
Str 10 Dex 13 Con 12 Int 16 Wis 11 Ch 17
Saves Fort +1 Ref +1 Will +3
Quarterstaff Masterwork +2 d6
Light Crossbow Masterwork +3 d8
Dagger Silver +1 or +2 d4
Armour: Leather Armour, Ring of Protection +1

Feats: Skill Focus (Use Magic Device), Armour Proficiency (Light), Improved Initiative, Scribe Scroll, Toughness.

Skills of note: Alchemy +5 Appraise +3 Bluff +3 Concentrate +6 Craft (Model) +3 Decipher Script +7 Diplomacy +3 Disguise +3 Forgery +3 Gather Info +3 Hide +5 Intimidate +3 Knowledge (Arcane) +8 Knowledge (Architecture & Engineering) +4 Knowledge (Geography) +4 Knowledge (Nature) +4 Listen +4 Move Silently +3 Perform (Vogue) +3 Scry +5 Search +3 Spellcraft +8 Use Magic Device +10

Familiar, actually Follower (of sorts) Swish, Animated Broom.

Spells: Lvl 0 (4) All;
Lvl 1 (4) Shield, Mage Armour, Mount, Dummon Monster I, Unseen Servant, Detect Secret Doors, Detect Undead, Identify, Magic Missile, Colour Spray, Cause Fear, Expeditious Retreat, Shocking Grasp, Spider Climb.

Items of note: Scrolls- lots of them, Wand of Burning Hands (Level 3- 29 Charges); Potion Cure Lt. x4, Potion of Intelligence, Pearl of Power (lvl 1), Necklace of Fireballs Type I, 2 Bags of Caltrops; 6 Tindertwigs, 10 Sunrods.

“Swish” Animated Broom companion AC15 Mv30 Init+2 +1 Slam d4 Hardness 5 Fort +0 Ref +2 Will -5


Gnome Male Rogue Level 2
NG HP 15 AC 19 Init +3
Str 11 Dex 16 Con 14 Int 16 Wis 11 Ch 10
Saves Fort +2 Ref +6 Will +2
Heavy Mace Masterwork +3 d6
Light Crossbow Masterwork +6 d6
Dagger Silver +2 or +5 d3
Armour: +1 Chain Shirt

Feats: Nimble Fingers, Low Light Vision, +1 To Hit vs. Goblinoids and Kobolds, +4 Dodge vs. Giants, Point Blank Shot, Evasion.

Skills of note: Alchemy +10 Appraise +5 Balance +7 Climb +4 Craft (Locksmith) +5 Decipher Script +5 Disable Device +10 Escape Artist +4 Forgery +3 Hide +10 Intimidate +3 Jump +5 (+35 with Ring of Jumping) Listen +7 Move Silently +8 Open Lock +10 Pick Pocket +4 Read Lips +5 Ride (Pony) +3 Scry +3 Search +8 Spot +5 Tumble +4 Use Rope +3

Spells: Ghost Sound, Dancing Lights, Prestidigitation & Speak with Burrowing Animals.

Items of note: Silk Climbing Rope, 10 Tindertwigs, 3 Thunderstones, 2 Tanglefoot bags, 10 Sunrods, 2 Smoke Sticks, 5 Alchemist’s Fire, Thieves Tools Masterwork, 5 Poison tipped Bolts, 10 Silver tipped Bolts, 20 Masterwork Bolts, 3 Flasks of Acid, Potion Cure Lt x5, Potion Spider Climb x2, Ring of Jumping.


Elf Female Cleric Level 2
NG HP 17 AC 18 Init +3
Str 14 Dex 17 Con 12 Int 10 Wis 17 Ch 13
Saves Fort +4 Ref +3 Will +6
Longsword Masterwork Cold Iron +5 d8+2
Composite Longbow Masterwork Mighty (+2) +5 d8+2
Dagger Silver +3 or +4 d4+2
Light Flail +3 d6+2
Armour: Chain Shirt & Light Steel Shield

Feats: Point Blank Shot, Weapon Focus (Longsword), Turn Undead (4/day).

Skills of note: Balance +3 Concentration +3 Diplomacy +3 Escape Artist +3 Heal +7 Hide +3 Listen +5 Move Silently +3 Ride (Horse) +3 Sense Motive +3 Spot +5 Use Rope +3 Wilderness Lore +3

Spells: Lvl 0 (4) Lvl 1 (4)
Domains: War & Good.

Items of note: 2 Healer’s Kits, Scroll Protection from Elements, Potion Cure Light Wounds x4, Scroll Hold Person & Deeper Darkness.

Next Turn: Well… Well.

Goonalan said:
Goole has become Ghoul, you can guess what lives there; and further afield, the Isle of Wight becomes... well, the Isle of Wights.

I like it. And as a native, I can confirm that Berkshire is indeed full of berks.

Actually, along these lines Liver-pool sounds as if it could be a fairly unpleasant place. :\

Dr Simon

First Post
Goonalan said:
Tell me about it, I live there... I mean here. The campaign locale is a modified version of Lincolnshire, my home county, I've adapted the place names slightly- I particularly like some of the names in the area- Goole has become Ghoul, you can guess what lives there; and further afield, the Isle of Wight becomes... well, the Isle of Wights.

It reminds me of 'Riddley Walker' by Russel Hoban, which is set in a sort of post-apocalypse Kent where Faversham has become 'Father's Ham', Ramsgate 'Ram's Gut' and so on.

I've run Dragonfiend Pact myself, so I'll be watching this one with interest.


I'll post the map next week of the locale, I've started to do one of the UK, Berkshire becomes simply Berks, the inhabitants of which are hulking brutes of limited thought capacity. In fact a Berks Barbarian, or Berkzerker, as they're more commonly known, is truly to be feared, although fazed by very simple mechanisms and tools- for example, a spoon.

Thanks, as always, for the feedback, and so- here we go again.

Dungeon Crawl Classics #11
The Dragonfiend Pact
For 2nd Level Characters​

Turn 28: Well… Well.

And so two days later, fully equipped, the adventurers huddle around the Well, looking down.

“Dark.” Jim’s on fine form.
“Come on then.” Cas proclaims, grabs a rope and ties it around Newt’s waist.
The pair complete their task and the Gnome climbs up and over- he’s lowered down.

Ala stands a little way apart, staring hard at Cas, sorry Cassy, still not speaking to him.

“There’s a door, hang on.”

Newt shouts back, his sunrod flaring in the confines of the well shaft, an obvious secret door, slightly ajar in the side of the well some sixty or so feet down.

The shaft descends further into a pool, who knows how deep, of inky black water.

“Swing the rope.”

Up top Jim, Cas and Bec do as they’re told.

Newt scrabbles forward on his strange trapeze, garbs hold of the stone door, and with great effort wrenches it fully open.

“There’s a secret passage. Swing again.”

And thirty seconds later Newt is in to the corridor beyond the door, he has a quick look, there’s nothing to be seen, although the passage seems to open out into a larger chamber a little way ahead.

A secured rope soon runs from the Well above to the secret passage below.

Bec- the heaviest, and also, probably, the best climber, is the first to test the way.



The giant man plummets past the opening, checks how deep the water is.

“BEC.” From above.
“You alright?” Newt from the open doorway.

Bec surfaces, grins, spits out water.


He smiles.

A shadow, something long and thin, detaches itself from the wall behind him, and slips silently into the water.

Jim follows Bec down the rope as the soaked Barbarian bobs up and down, now illuminated by another sunrod.

The Ranger reaches the passageway safely, uncoils another rope and throws it down for Bec to grab.

Ten seconds later Jim and Newt begin to haul him out.


A water snake, a Viper, no more than three feet long takes a chunk out of the Barbarian’s backside- he gurns a second, still clutching the rope, and then lets go- falls back down into the water.

Beneath the surface Bec thrashes and grabs hold of the slippery thing- grips it in his huge hands.


The Viper takes another bite out of him.


Bec screams, and releases the snake, which swims away into the dark water.

Bec surfaces again, spluttering.


The Barbarian thrashes the water, grabs at the rope, above Jim and Newt heave-ho.

Bec is half out of the water, he’s heavy.


And bitten again.

He kicks his legs and screams; the water around him turns to foam.


But fails to dislodge the creature which coils around his leg and slithers up his body.


Jim screams as Bec jolts upwards, scraping against the wall of the Well- the snake still attached to him.


The Viper takes another mouthful of Barbarian flesh, this time from the chest, its poison takes hold, Bec feels himself getting weaker, the strength being sapped from his hands, his grip weakening…


He’s hauled upwards again, barely holding on.


Another bite, he grips on to the rope for dear life.

And then he’s over the lip and into the light of the passageway, barely able to lift himself, Jim dodges in, grabs the snake and flings it back out into the Well shaft.

“Get down here- he’s poisoned.”

Newt shouts up.

Five minutes later the adventurers are in the passageway, Bec has most of his wounds healed, and yet the Viper’s poison still courses through him.

“Are you alright?” Ala asks.
Bec shrugs.
“Take it easy.” Cas cautions.
“Take it easy?” Newt whispers back, “not much chance of that.”
Cas shoots the Gnome a look, Bec chuckles and draws his longsword- it gives him comfort.

Another sunrod flares, Cas and Newt leads the group forward into a much larger chamber.

The corridor spills into a large cavern, some twenty feet wide; it extends forty feet away from them. The air is damp, the constant drip of water. The cavern floor is uneven; it slopes down away from the adventurers. The cave boasts a number of fine stalactites and stalagmites, also loose rubble and some rotting timbers.

Cas grabs Newt’s arm.

“Look- there’s an exit.”

And so there is, another passage, hidden a little by the stone formations of the cavern.

“We should check this place out. Don’t want to leave anything dangerous behind us.”

Newt states, mocking the Paladin, and inches forward.

“Be careful little one.” Cas offers, genuine.
Newt tuts and shakes his head, mouths ‘little one’, and moves on forward.


Jim appears.


Jim points at a desiccated corpse of a cave lizard, and then another, and another, and… There are lots of them.

But Newt’s sunrod glints off something silver and gold on the cavern floor, his greed gets the better of him- he moves forward to investigate.

And at that second a huge section of the cavern floor seems to tilt and lift, to pivot, out scurries a Monstrous Trapdoor Spider, the huge creature skitters forward with lightning speed, straight for Newt.


Newt fires his crossbow, the bolt lodges in the ceiling of the cavern.


Jim fires too- his arrow heads high and wide.

Just in time Newt dodges and tumbles behind a stalagmite, the Spider is thwarted.

Newt scrambles back, as the Spider climbs over the stalagmite, screaming.


Fits another bolt into his crossbow and fires again.


Misses again, he’s hard against the cavern wall.


Jim, cries and then charges, he gets about five yards.

Before getting caught in a complicated, and previously seemingly invisible, lattice of spider’s webs, he’s stuck fast.

Ala dodges left, finds a clear space, notches an arrow and lets it fly- it whizzes over the top of the Spider, and clatters into the wall, a little way from Newt, who doesn’t look best pleased.

The Monstrous Spider bends low, its fangs smash against Newts chain shirt, score grooves in the Gnome’s armour, but do not pierce the mail.

“Smidgin.” Anya whispers coming to the end of a scroll- a single Magic Missile wends its way, lightning fast, across the room and thumps into the Spider’s abdomen.

The Spider draws away. Attempts to turn in close quarters.

And just in time to meet the charge of Cas and Bec, Bec clears the way through the webs, tearing a Barbarian-shaped gap through which Cas follows.

The Barbarian’s longsword swings and crunches into the Spider, crippling two of the creature’s legs and loosing a spray of black filthy ichor from the wounds. The Spider rises up, struggling desperately to turn. Cas races in and stabs the beast in its exposed underbelly- the creature deflates, sinks to the stone floor, dead.

Silence for a moment, the adventurers catch their breath.

Newt sees his reward, scuttles over, and takes, what looks to be, a beautifully made dagger with a large opal set in the hilt.

“Are we finished?” Cas asks.
Newt nods.
“Then let’s get on.”

The adventurers make a cursory search of the chamber, discover a hand full of silver and gold and then filter on through the other passage.

They press on.

But not for long.


Newt creeps ahead, the five-foot wide passage turns to head west, ahead a rusted portcullis blocks the path.

“It’s trapped.” Newt confirms, “there’s something magical about it, there’s a sigil etched into the floor- a magical ward, someone doesn’t want to be disturbed.”
“Can you manage it?” Anya enquires.
“Give me a minute.”

And as good as his word, although more than a minute passes, it’s actually nearer five.


Cas and Bec file forward, grip the bottom of the portcullis and wrench it upwards.


Bec holds it aloft.

“Come on.” Cas waves the others forward.


A spear shoots out of the passage wall, at least only part of the way out, misses everyone, Jim reacts quickly, hefts his battle axe and smashes the spear in half.

“Quickly.” Cas shouts and encourages the others onwards.

There seems to be a small, previously hidden, small round hole in the passage’s northern wall.


There’s someone, or rather something, on the other side of the wall.

“Wait. There may be more traps.” Newt cautions.

The adventurers file through to the far side of the portcullis, which Bec lets go of, it stays in place, locked in the up position.

“There’s a door.”

Ala rushes to it. Jim, Cas and Bec get into place.

The Priestess of Correllon flings the door open, into a darkened chamber, a sunrod arcs into the room.

A small irregular shaped room, it reeks of decay. Four Dwarves wearing rusty chainmail and carrying spears, one of which is broken, inhabit the place, they turn to face the adventurers. Flesh sags and hangs from their pale faces, lifeless unblinking eyes- they shamble forward.

“Correllon hear my prayer.”

Ala wields her Holy Symbol.

A pale light encompasses the quartet, they stop, mid-stride- frozen.

“Destroy them.”

Bec, Jim and Cas let rip, the Zombie Dwarves are defenceless, and in thirty seconds are no more.

“Who the hell were they? And why the hell are they here?” Cas is flummoxed.

“Spread out- search the place.” Anya states.

The adventurers set to.

Collectively they discover a number of ripped torn and shredded pieces of paper which when joined back together, Anya completes the jigsaw in record time, form a message, of sorts.

Anya reads, after first deciphering the code.

“It’s simple really, it says-

Work Agreement

Dated- May 10th.

This contract is between Stoneshaper Masons (contractor) and Chloram (hirer). In return for the sum of 450gp, the contractor agrees to provide the following services: construction of a portcullis with a hidden lever, a ten foot deep covered pit, and a pair of simple traps. These services are to be performed at an undisclosed location- here, obviously- and shall be completed within 30 days of the start date. The contractors agree to keep this secret and shall not disclose the location to any other sources- I think that’s guaranteed.”

Anya stares down at the dead-again Dwarves, then continues, reads on-

“Where was I… Payment terms: 25% advance with the remainder due upon completion of the services. Contractor supplies all raw materials needed.

It’s signed, Chloram.”

Anya looks up at the expectant faces.

“And you’ve realised by now that Chloram is an anagram of Malchor, who, I believe Cas, is the Innkeeper of the Wellow Inn, where you, and Ala, are staying.”

Anya finishes.

The Paladin and Cleric look surprised and guilty, then nod, and share a look.

Next Turn: Lucky Newt.


Dungeon Crawl Classics #11
The Dragonfiend Pact
For 2nd Level Characters​

Turn 29: Lucky Newt.

“Right then we need to look out for the traps.” Newt states the obvious.

“So it’s Malchor.” Ala says.
“It’s not yet certain.” Cas counters.
“There may be some other explanation- let’s not jump to conclusions.”

Jim and Anya look skyward, they’re certain.
Ala tuts, as loud as she can.

“You’re a fool.”

And heads back out of the chamber.

Newt shrugs; dodges out of the chamber and ahead of Ala, the others file out and follow the Gnome who scans the floor ahead.


Only thirty seconds later.

Newt creeps ahead.

“Ho-Ho. Look at this, they did say simple.”

Newt points as he explains.

“Trip wire, heads up the wall, across the ceiling, bow and arrow wedged in there- trip the wire and ‘fwoom’ arrow-in-the-eye. Simple.”

“Good work, can you disarm it, in case we have to return this way in a rush?” Cas asks.

“Easy, I’ll just…” Newt starts.


The arrow canons into the cavern wall, an inch or so above the Gnome’s head- it bounces out and down, Newt catches it.

“MMMmm”, he sniffs the arrow’s tip, “poisoned- could have been nasty. Come on.”

And then the Gnome’s off again.

There’s a collective shaking of heads, they follow on.


They’ve not got much further.

“Another one.” Newt reports.

“Same again.”

The others settle in for the customary lecture.

“Another trip wire, up the wall, across the… no hang on.”

Newt spots something new.

“Nice. It’s connected to some sort of spring mechanism, which holds back a great big axe- FWUNG, blimey imagine what that would have done.” Newt finishes.

“Can you…” Cas starts.

“Say no more…”


The axe passes, an inch or so- as is custom, over the Gnome’s head.

“Oooops.” Newt turns around and giggles.

“Still. Onwards.”

Newt heads off again, but only takes another ten or so steps.


“Bloody hell.” Jim offers.
“At least this should be the last of them- whatever it is he’s hiding down here he’s trying his best to keep it a secret.” Anya confirms.

“What is it this time?” Cas asks.

“Bec- grab a big rock.”

The Barbarian does so.

“Now fling it there.”

Bec does so.


The entire floor gives way- a pit trap.

Thirty seconds later they’ve safely negotiated their way across, Jim has sunk a number of pitons into the wall, a rope is strung across- it’s a noisy endeavour but very safe.

They move on the passage splits, north or south.

Newt crouches, puts his hand out to stop the others, sniffs the air, and then points south.

“Animal.” The Gnome states, he filters back- lets the warriors get ahead.

The sunrod illuminates another irregular shaped chamber, larger, a musty animal smell, with glistening walls, moisture pools on the floor in places, roughly twenty feet in diameter, stalagmites almost touch the ceiling.

Suddenly a noise, something large behind one of the stalagmites, it’s heading this way.

Cas and Jim leap forward to meet the creature, which roars as it arrives.


A five foot at the shoulder black and white stripped musteline- a huge Dire Badger, its rage echoes down the passage walls.

It snaps and claws at Cas, who dodges back just in time. Jim sees his enemy, swings his axe, and leaves a bloody trail. The Dire Badger moans but strikes again, a huge claw lashes out and thumps and scores Cas, who staggers back, then comes again.


The noise again, louder still, from its maw foam and spittle drips, the Dire Badger Rages.

Newt tumbles into the room, comes up crossbow in hand and fires- misses.

Jim dives forward and in again, slashes at the creature, rips open its back.

Bec tries to progress in but he’s stuck in the door way, trapped behind Cas and Jim. Anya drags him aside, she holds a scroll in her hands- mutters arcane phrases.


A sudden burst of light before the Badger’s eyes, the creature turns aside, but only for a second, the spell fails, it Rages on.

The creature slashes again, its paw smashes into Cas, who’s flattened, knocked to the floor, he thrashes and wriggles out from beneath the creature- rolls left a little then right, and crawls away.


Newt fires again- and misses.

Jim swings again, connects, leaving another bloody rent in the Dire Badger, which regardless comes again- launches itself towards Cas, still crumpled on the cavern floor.

Bec’s sees his opportunity and steps in, an over-arm stroke that cuts deep into the creature’s brain.

The Dire Badge yanks the sword from the Barbarian’s hands, stumbles backwards, foaming and spitting, screaming.


Eventually shivers and sinks to the floor.

Cas gulps down a healing potion, refreshed, stands and directs the action.

“Search this place. Quickly- they must know we’re coming.”

The others, except Ala, set to.

Ala approaches.

“You alright?”
“Yes”, Cas replies quickly, stern, and then softer, “yes.”

Ala nods and joins the others, Cas looks after her.

Less than a minute later they’re heading north this time; there’s nothing to find in the Dire Badger’s lair.

The passage splits again, there’s a shimmering light coming from the left hand passage, and the flick of flames from the right.

“Quietly- left.” Cas counsels.

They head in, as silently as possible.

“Beautiful.” Jim states.
Even Bec is staring, speechless.

A large chamber, stalagmites join to stalactites forming columns, the south wall a milky white flowstone- just like a stone waterfall, at its base a pool of clear water trickling into runs and rivulets that flow north. The other walls wink and glisten from the numerous minerals infused in the stone.

Newt quickly dispels the glamour, crouches low and scuttles on in.

The others follow, eventually, when they stop staring at the beautiful chamber.

Newt’s spotted something in the pool.

Puts his hand in.


He gasps and picks out a lumpy leather pouch, he opens it.

A nest of silver sling stones glisten in the light.

“Right.” Cas whispers.
“I think the chamber ahead has somebody in it- the fire, we should take precautions.”

The others nod, check their gear.

Cas leads them out, and onwards.

The passage ends at a very large chamber, forty feet wide, fifty feet north to south. The area is dimly lit by a flickering fire, from a fire pit in the centre of the chamber, and now by the adventurer’s sunrods. Large stalagmites are scattered throughout the chamber, creating areas of shadow, two either side of the passage through which the adventurers come.

On the east wall is a large wooden chest with a massive padlock, along the north west wall a pile of furs and rags, the far wall a maze of two foot diameter holes that lead off into darkness, rat tunnels.

The adventurer’s take in the surroundings, the chamber seems to be empty, although there’s the squeak of rats somewhere, somewhere close.

Cas goes to speak… and is engulfed by a swarm of Rats that filter either side of the stalagmites.

“Now it’s over.”

A voice rings out from somewhere hidden over the far side of the chamber.

The rats gnaw and bite, they’re everywhere. Cas stumbles bleeding from over half-a-dozen wounds. Newt shambles forward, bleeding also, out of the storm.


And is struck hard in the chest, an arrow.

The Gnome falls backwards.

Next Turn: Where Badger?


Dungeon Crawl Classics #11
The Dragonfiend Pact
For 2nd Level Characters​

Turn 30: Where Badger?

Anya screams, “Get out of the way, FIRE.”

Cas struggles backwards rats all over him, more bites, he never knew he had so much blood.


An arrow thumps into his right thigh, he falls to his knees.

Newt rolls over and up, and is on all fours, rats filter towards him, biting his feet and legs as he shuffles forward. He struggles on, kicking and flailing with his legs trying to get the vermin off of him. He thrusts his hand into his belt pouch, comes out with a small flask, swigs the contents down- cuts and tears mend in an instant.

Cas thumps back into Ala.

“My baby.” She whispers.

And pours her healing magic into him.


Rats crisp, burn and die. And yet there are plenty more of them left.


Bec charges into the swarm, he’s mad I told you, swats and swishes, and is soon covered in the creatures, Jim dives in and begins to swish and swot- neither of them are having a great effect.


Cas shouts, levers himself upright, and charges through the swarm again- bursts out the other side, veers right at the shape that seems to be dislodging itself from one of the stalagmites.


The Paladin flings himself forward.


And is smashed again by an arrow, he staggers, but heads on.

Bec begins to see the sense of it, he crunches down and rolls out of the Rat Swarm, splattering the rats still on him in the process, he’s covered in nips and bites.

Jim follows the giant man, heads out of the swarm, and charges after Cas.

Newt rolls from behind a stalagmite, crossbow in hand, and fairly rat-free, aims at the shadowy figure, where Cas is heading.


He misses, damn that was one of his poisoned bolts.

Ala slashes at the swarm, tries to stay out of their reach, “Anya, again”, she screams.


The entrance to the chamber is filled with flames, and in an instant the swarm is gone, scattered stragglers skitter away from the crisped remains of their cousins, they flee.

Cas rips the arrow from his gut, pours healing energy into the wound, which stops bleeding and then closes over.

Then crashes into his enemy.

Who seems to be some half-Badger, half-Man- actually a Werebadger named Tarn.

Cas’s longsword slices into the man’s furred body, ripping a gout of flesh from his side. The creature swiftly lashes back; a great clawed hand slices Cas from neck to chest.

The Paladin staggers backwards, drops his sword, and collapses onto the cavern floor.

“More meet for the grinder.” The terrible creature whispers.

Newt kisses his crossbow, mutters a prayer, and fires again.


A hit. Except the bolt bounces right back out again. The Werebadger turns and growls, but Newt by then is hidden behind a stalagmite shaking.


Ala screams and charges forward through the burnt remains of the rats, towards her lover.

Jim’s into the fray- slashes wildly- misses by a mile, and is raked badly, for his efforts; he breathes hard as blood cascades down his face and into his eyes.

Bec races forward, and at lightning speed.

Jim backs away swiftly waves his hand before him, nearly out on his feet. Newt stays hidden, sneaking glances every now and then. Ala squats over Cas, cradles his head as she fires healing into him, tears in her eyes. Anya enters the chamber.

“You must pay for your meddling ways.”

Tarn, the Werebadger shouts as it lurches forward to meet the much bitten Bec.


Bec swings his great sword, hits decisively.


Tarn staggers back, holding his right arm to his chest, it’s all but severed.


The creature morphs and shapes, everyone stops what they’re doing to watch, it turns into a large Badger, then scurries-waddles backwards into one of the darkened tunnels, bites down on its bow, en route, and drags it after it, in seconds its gone.


Cas opens his eyes, takes a breath, tries to get up.

“Wait.” Ala holds him down.

“You’ve been bitten by a Were-Creature, you could be infected. You could all be.”
Jim, in particular, examines his wounds, sits down hard.

“I’m a Paladin, Ala, Pelor will protect me.”

And Cas is up and on his feet.

“See what you can do for Jim, we’ll head to the temple as soon as we’re done here, they’ll have the cure.”

Ala nods, all business, heads over to Jim and uncorks a Healing Potion, soon his wounds are gone.

“Right then, we need to search this place- thoroughly. Newt.”

The Gnome comes back from poking around in one of the dark tunnels, nods at Cas.

“We need your eagle-eyes.” Cas finishes.

They set to work.

The bed, mostly rags and furs, is stinky, nothing of use, over the fire-pit a cauldron and a bubbling foul stew.

Jim finds a bunch of strange, and small, leather harnesses.

“What are these for?”

Anya wanders over, examines them, Newt takes a look.

“Rats.” Anya has it.
“What for though?”
“You steal something nice, and small, then you put it in here”, Anya indicates a part of the harness, “then the rat runs along and delivers whatever it is, through…”, Anya turns and points at one of the dark tunnels, “there.”

The others mooch about and take a look at the strange devices. Newt heads over to the chest, gets to work.

“With these.” There’s more to Anya’s story, she holds a set of pipes in her hand, “I think these will prove to be magical, I’ve heard of them, ‘Pipes of the Sewer’, or some such- they’re used to Summon and Control rats. Like the swarm we fought earlier.”

“I hate rats.” Newt looks up.


And then springs the lock on the chest- there’s lots to see inside.


Newt proffers papers from the chest, while slipping a handful of coins and gems into a secret pocket.

Five minutes later they’ve sorted through their find, and what a find, the first thing is a map, which Cas identifies, “it’s the tunnels, it’s a map through the tunnels.”

“What use is that?” Jim asks.
Cas shrugs.

Also in the chest is an Ivory Scroll Tube, with some sort of intricate locking mechanism, Newt soon finds a way, it contains a bunch of scrolls- they’re passed to Anya.

“Strength spells, all of them.” She states.

Then a rack of identical potion flasks, all labelled. Newt reads, then mumbles, through a giggle, “they’re shrinking potions.”
“What?” Ala asks.
“Shrinking, reduces your height, your size and that.”
“I bet we’d fit down the tunnels with one of these.”
Newt giggles again.

Passes another sheet of paper to Anya and then starts to scoop out of the chest the pile of gems and coins.

“It’s a spell scroll for something called, ‘Improved Reduce Person’, probably the same as the potions.”

She looks around.

“The pipes are magical, you’re right.” Ala confirms.

“So, where next?”

They turn to look at Cas, who as they watch shrinks down till he is only one-and-a-half feet tall.


The Paladin states, in a voice a little like Donald Duck.

Next Turn: The Diddymen.

Richard Rawen

First Post
Goonalan said:
I'm still frustrated with this story hour, if anyone has any clues as to how I can improve it then please don't hesitate to drop me a line, it could be so much better. I think it's partly because when I play this group they tend to skip back story and the roleplay which usually occurs during, and definitely between scenarios- they just want to get their dice rolling and get stuck in- obviously this makes character development incidental to the action (dice rolling).

Suggestions please...

Sorry I haven't had much in the way of comments of late... catchin' up.
All I can say you is that you are telling the story well enough that the characters do not blur and the action is detailed and clear enough to follow and enjoy. I don't see the downside you apparently do... so I will ask this:
What is it that you see wrong?

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