Insect Shrine session 3 and Caldwell Castle

We played the third session of Jim Raggi’s Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill playtest last week. I also ran the title scenario of B9 Castle Caldwell and Beyond last Sunday. NiTessine already wrote a post on the latter, saving me the trouble of going into much detail, so I’ll just write some short observations on it.

The Insect Shrine sessions started right where we left off: The Halfling Burial Mound. We decided to head back to the inn to recuperate, after which we headed back to the mound, with freshly memorized Read Languages -spells for deciphering the plaques on the halfling statues. Exploration of the rest of the tomb commenced. There were a whole lot of buried halflings, all of them with gems embedded in their foreheads, and a scythe trap, which nearly took off the Fighter’s head. The gems seemed valuable, well worth the risk of the halfling skeletons running amok, so we proceeded to smash the skeletons to bits. Sure enough, them bones started doing their horrid dance, and fierce combat ensued. My character, the Magic-User, had no spells left for the day, so I voted for a retreat. My pleas fell on deaf ears as the two Clerics, the Halfling and the Fighter were overcome by  battle-lust, and proceeded to hack the skeletons apart, turn them with Cleric magic, and burn them with Molotov Cocktails. Guess these guys didn’t think 20+ halfling skeletons were scary enough. Oh, well.

The Halfling Mound having been dealt with, it was right back to the inn for a few more days of R&R, while the Fighter’s brand new plate-mail was being fitted. Next up, the goblin caves. It had taken us the better part of three game sessions to get to the actual meat of the module. Not a problem as such, although it was a bit contrary to expectations. Once there, we only had time to explore a few rooms, and burn a grey mold to death (oil, again), before calling it a day.

A system-related observation: According to the rules, throwing lit oil flasks at people is a perfectly viable tactic, and a very effective one at that. However, in my humble opinion, Molotov cocktails have no place in a Sword & Sorcery -type fantasy setting. Its just plain ridiculous, and I’d never allow it in any of my games. Now, if the contents of said improvised grenades were something that ignites more easily, burns faster and hotter, and clings to a target, like, say, petroleum and resins, AND the setting was something that regularly features explosions, and improvised incendentary devices being lobbed at hordes of advancing zombies or at Russian tanks, it would be a wholly different cup of tea.

On a tangent, my own exploration of OD&D had sparked an interest in running a few games of it myself. I decided I’d use the Labyrinth Lord rules set, and the Basic D&D modules as a framework for adventures, and build a fantasy world more to my liking around it. The building blocks were H. P. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, the Sword & Planet genre, and Geoff McKinney’s Supplement V: Carcosa. The wiki-page of this project can be found here (unfortunately in Finnish). On a whim (had a lazy Sunday), I decided to get some people together for an afternoon of old-school dungeon exploration. I picked up my copy of Castle Caldwell and Beyond, read the seven or so pages of gaming material, trimmed off some of the fat (goodbye, giant shrew), worked in a back-story of Yog-Sothoth Cultists, and off we went. NiTessine’s blog-entry goes into much more detail on the topic, and since I don’t really have much to add to it, go read that one. The wiki sub-page of the game session can be found here (again, Finnish only). Suffice to say, I had fun, my players had fun, and the material (Mine, not the module’s. The module is still shite.) performed quite well, and was well received. I’m looking forward to experimenting some more with this type of gaming. We’ll see how it develops.

Tomorrow: more Insect Shrine.

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