Insect Shrine, session 2

We played the second session of Jim Raggi’s Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill a week ago. Session 3 is today, so for completeness’ sake I’ll post briefly on the second session.

The adventuring group had taken quite a pounding at the ruined tower, so we headed back to the inn to recruit new red-shirts… er… brave adventurers to join our quest for gold and xp. The new guys were Wydo the dashing Halfling archer and Peter the Pious, the monk-like Cleric (monk in the sense of sack-cloth robes and bad BO, not the wushu-style ass-kicker Character Class). Some getting to know the new guys, checking up familiar faces at the inn, and re-stocking of provisions followed, after which we headed to the abandoned, supposedly demon-haunted village.

As it turns out, what was found at the village wasn’t at all what we’d expected. Some exploration, a brief tussle with a pair of jokels, and a close call (three characters either down for the count or paralyzed) with a Ghoul followed. Found some scrolls, and got another bit of foreshadowing about the actual Insect Shrine.

The sandboxyness of the setting was still quite strong, although there is a underlying theme, which, like a slow current, seemed to have caught hold of us and was drawing us towards the Insect Shrine. I can see some of the underlying structure, and the elaborate groundwork, but the material still manages to appear open-ended. A healthy dose of illusionism never hurts, and this time it actually seemed to be working, even though there was one particular scene, which, in my opinion, felt a bit “glued-on”. In this scene a bunch of NPC’s had a conversation (that is, the referee is talking to himself), and the PC’s were just witnessing, the end result being an actual map to the Insect Shrine being presented to the PC’s.

The system itself was still working out OK, but I found myself missing some of the “fiddly bits” of more comprehensive rules systems, like, for instance, how does scribing scrolls work and what does it cost, and how do you find out stuff about magic items. The OD&D approach to things like this is pretty much “dunno, I guess the referee will make a ruling on this”.

The rest of the session was taken up by another side-trek, this one involving hellhounds and a halfling burial mound. I had to quit early, but I didn’t think the last of the three hellhounds would pose much of a problem to the four other characters. Anyway, I’d already done my bit by doing away with the other two hellhounds. I later heard the last doggy had managed to down one more character with its fiery breath, but had eventually succumbed to the onslaught, at which point the game had paused. We’d continue with the exploration of the burial mound next session.

All in all, a good and entertaining game session. I think the module is something I’d definitely run myself at some point, although I might put in even more creepy foreshadowing stuff about the horrors ahead, and try to emphasize the whole mystery aspect of it. Also, I’d remove all references to cute and fluffy faeries with short attention spans and squeeky voices. I’ve had quite enough of those for now. The faeries in my own games tend to be more of the “steal your babies, steal your soul” -type of unseelie weird-and-creepy.

EDIT: Had some time to kill, so I put up my character sheet here.

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