We played our fifth, and possibly penultimate session of Jim Raggi’s Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill playtest last Wednesday. Its been great fun so far, and I, for one, am quite sold on both the quality of the module, and the concept of a rules-light popcorn-fantasy-dungeon crawling game, that the OD&D style of gaming amply provides. I’d compare it to a cheeseburger and coke, whereas games with more actual content (be it more story, more character immersion, more rules, or what have you) can be likened to a full-course meal. Both fill your stomach equally well, and even though you’d be better off eating heartily all the time, you’d still get a craving for burgers, or time constraints would make it impossible to manage anything else.
Food analogies aside and onto the actual contents of the game session.
Our craven group of grave-robbers and fortune hunters had so far managed to scout out the Goblin Caves, done a few short forays into them, managed to amass some meagre loot, killed around 20’ish goblins and wolves, a dozen or so giant ants, and killer wasps; had run ins with ghosts, oozes, cursed rings, feral beasts, annoying pixies, a hippogriff, masquerading bandits, and a ghoul. This session, however, we managed to get into the actual Insect Shrine, a subterranean dungeon complex obviously not built by goblin hands. Very nice atmosphere, a neat little puzzle (unsolved so far), long hallways, mysterious rooms, and in the middle of it all, a main hall dedicated to some unfathomable insect-like deity who’s worshipers were evidently long gone from this world. The insects, however, remained. Yet again we managed to survive by the skin of our teeth. My character almost got killed by a giant blood-sucking tick. (Also, the first time during the whole campaign my character was wounded. As another player remarked, I have binary hit points. At a total of four (a second level character), I’m either at full health or down and dying. There is no middle ground.) Thank the Gods for Jim’s house rule, which states that a character isn’t dead at zero hit points, merely unconscious. Death doesn’t come collecting until -3 hp.
This was probably my favorite game session so far. I don’t know why, I just love a good dungeon crawl, where you need to tread carefully, prod stuff with a ten foot pole, listen for any telltale noises lest you get jumped by some terrible beastie, and conserve your light source. The natives can see in the dark, you see. Well, most of them anyway. I also love mapping. Its something for me to do when I’m out of spells and hiding someplace or behind one of plate-mailed big dolts usually referred to as other player characters. Mapping also gives me a (perhaps false) sense of being in control of the situation. Take away my map, and I’m just the guy throwing witty banter in the face of violent, possibly lethal death.
We’ll possibly be able to wrap things up come next week’s game session, as there isn’t that much of the Goblin Shrine left to explore, and even the Goblin tribe has been considerably thinned by us Going Belkar on their asses. We’ll see what happens.