Monday, September 21, 2009

For whom the gnoll tolls

For a variety of reasons, this weekend the girls and I only had time for one shortish session of Dungeons & Dragons. Fairy Girl actually didn't want to play at first, and it was up to Monkey Girl to handle all the treasure distribution and divvy up the earned experience points. Fairy Girl eventually did join the game, though, so the adventure was able to continue as before.

The party returned the rescued hostages to the keep safely, and were rewarded for their efforts. The merchant's guild gave them 100 gold and exempted them from any taxes and fees for a year. The rescued merchant's wife gave them a magical dagger +1. With a bit of money in their pockets, the adventurers spent about a week at the keep, resting and healing wounds in preparation for another expedition.

Returning to the Caves of Chaos, they elected to re-enter the goblin caves that started off the previous adventure. Inexplicably, they chose not to explore any of the cave complex they hadn't ventured into before, but instead stuck to the rooms they'd fought through previously, noting someone (or something) had cleaned up after the fight to some degree. The door to the hobgoblin's lair was locked this time, but Monkey Girl successfully picked the lock. They followed the same patter in the hobgoblin tunnels, eventually covering all the ground they'd previously explored and then venturing into new tunnels. They soon found the heavy door that led to the outside, and again, decided to leave with out exploring any further.

I found this somewhat puzzling, I have to admit. When I was playing--even at an ignorant, early age--once we started in on a particular cave complex or whathaveyou, the party would continue exploring until the monsters were all cleaned out. This whole approach of cleaning out a few rooms then venturing on to a different cave is new to me. But we'll see what happens.

Back outside, the party decided to look for a new cave, and climbed further up the hill until they espied a previously undiscovered opening in the hillside. They entered boldly, and immediately ran into four gnoll warriors. Gnolls, interestingly enough, weren't listed in my AD&D Monster Manual, so when the girls wanted to know what they were, I had to dig out the old D&D basic set rule book to find out they were large hyena-like humanoids. Big, powerful and ugly, particularly when facing a party of first-level adventurers. Remember how the girls (and my dwarf) were over-matched by orcs the first time out? Yeah. Gnolls are worse. Still, buoyed perhaps by their success against the hobgoblins, they pressed the attack and killed two gnolls as two others hung back shooting at the adventurers with bows. Then the bow-wielding gnolls fled, apparently to get help. The party charged after them, but lost sight of their quarry and ended up taking a wrong turn. Remember that scene from Star Wars where Han Solo and Chewbacca chase those stormtroopers through the Death Star, only to run into a battalion of the white-suited canon fodder (original or special editions doesn't matter--the principal is the same)? That's what happened to the party. They ran right into the gnoll's grand hall, with a bunch of warriors and many, many more females and the like. Bravado fled, as did the adventurers without a second thought. At which point they ran smack into the original two bow-wielding gnolls along with a handful of reinforcements. A sharp, pitched battle ensued, resulting in the defeat of the gnolls but also the quick exhaustion of my dwarf's healing spells to bring several characters back from the brink of death.

And that's where the adventure suspended for the night--with the party, weakened and battered, magic spells all spent, stuck deep inside the gnolls' tunnels with a bunch of warriors chasing after them from the grand hall. How's that for a cliffhanger?

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  1. What edition are you using? I'm guessing, since you say AD&D Monster Manual, that it's 1st or 2nd. We've been playing 4th for a couple of months. Our group ranges in age from 45 to 14.

  2. We're playing first edition. That's what I have the most books for. I briefly dabbled with second edition, but after blowing a bit of dough on the new Player's Handbook and a couple of supplementary titles, I just couldn't justify the switch. Then I found out about the whitewashing of all the demons, devils and such to mollify the religious right, and that sealed the deal for me.

    I've heard complaints that 4th edition plays more like a tabletop World of Warcraft simulation than the classic RPG. I suspect I won't be going down that path any time soon.

  3. The 4th edition does seem much more video-gamish (notice the neologism I just made up). Characters have all sorts of inherent powers just for being who and what they are. There are relatively huge hit point numbers for characters, and advancement seems to be much faster.

    Meh. It's a chance for a bunch of geeks to kick back and relax.

    BTW, check this out...

  4. Ah, yes. I saw those a few days ago. I'm pretty sure I'll end up buying some eventually. I mean, how can I not want to experience the refreshing splendor of Illithid Brain Juice?