Last time we left our stalwart adventurers, they were preparing to assault a fortress occupied by orcs carved from a cavern wall in the Fungal Forest. I must preface this session with a bit of personal history. As a Referee, I never really ran that many modules produced by TSR, despite owning dozens and having a subscription to Dungeon Magazine. The reason is quite simple. The one campaign I tried to run using TSR modules wasn't any fun. The modules in question were A1-4. We never made it past A2. Reading through it, I could not imagine how I could run the module without it resulting in a TPK. My players were the kind that liked solving problems by hitting it with an axe (despite my repeated attempts to wean them of this method). Even when stealth is used, A2 seemed to invite a situation where one mistake would not end well. I was honest with my payers and they decided to go off on a different adventure.
With this in mind, I kept a very strict 2/3 empty room ratio in the fortress, curious to see if the ratio would produce a session full of tense combat, or something unrealistically empty. I was pleasantly surprised. Given that the orcs behaved in a reasonably intelligent manner, the fortress had just about the right feel. The combats were desperate and challenging, but once over allowed the party enough of a breather to honestly determine whether or not to continue. We even had a nice false climax.
My players have no qualms about taking prisoners and using various techniques to get information out of them. They even have a method (when the dragon is feeling cooperative) to dispose of the bodies. This may sound unChristian (and it is, for the most part), but I have to give my players props. They are quite honest about what they are trying to do, and live up to their agreements. Of course, calling a dragon in a bag of holding a "magic trick" is a bit misleading, but the prisoner did get what he asked for...
The flip side is that I have no qualms about playing up the Chaotic nature of captured monsters and I successfully lead the party on a merry goose chase. Their goal in this tower is to find the Golden Masked Magic User that they believe has set up shop in the fortress. They were then lead to believe that she was on the top level of the fortress. Instead of a magic user, they found a bunch of ogres. Though the party managed to survive, the battle left them battered and without spells. As such, they beat a hasty retreat to fight another day.
On their way out, I rolled a wondering monster encounter. Using my new table, they encountered an event rather than a monster. It had a nice chilling effect on the party. Knowing how much they quake when I say "everyone make a save vs. spell" this is how this encounter began. Those who saved, had an encounter with a robed man. When they tried to speak with him, they all failed their saving throws and he disappeared.
4 hours ago