TPK: The Sunless Citadel

I’ve been running The Sunless Citadel off and on again at the local library of teenage sisters as their attendance has permitted. The game finally came to a close yesterday as two of the sisters decided to go it alone and further explore the buried ruins.

Both victims were first level: Ginny the wizard and Myrtle the cleric.

We resumed the game just after they won the fight with the mummified troll Dragonpriest in the SW corner of the “ground level”. Having been badly beaten by the troll, the girls opted to lock themselves within that wing and spend the night rather than return to town.

Their guide, Meepo, woke then the next “morning” and asked where they wanted him to take them next. They had already explored the NW corner of the grounds and had no desire to tangle with the Goblins that they knew camped there. Instead, the dynamite duo decided to check out the eastern passage that leads up through the NE corner.

The party returned to the room where they first met Meepo and took the west-ward leading passage. It led them to an empty and dusty room which they quickly exited to the north. In the next chamber, they found a dusty old fountain, which failed to hold their attention, and a northward corridor that passed through another dusty, dis-used chamber and into a hall flanked by cell rooms.

Here, they finally paused to consider their surroundings. Unable to physically force the cell doors open, Myrtle used a minor blessing (mend) to strip the rust from the hinges. The door swing open freely and they investigated one of the cells. Within, they found naught but an old dire rat’s nest which they left alone.  The ladies had previously encountered dire rats when they first descended into the Citadel and they were not eager to repeat the experience.  Instead, they proceeded north again and into another chamber containing a fountain.

This room was more exciting. Someone had been here before them and had used steel spikes to jam open a pair of pit traps. The first blocked their entrance to the room, though it was easily circumvented. The second was open before a closed door that led west. This dusty fountain drew a brief inspection but when no new detail presented itself, they opened the west door.

The stench of rotting meat suffuses the air, rising from the much-chewed carcasses of several cave rats, smaller vermin, and some suspiciously humanoid-looking bodies. The cadavers lie upon the floor of filth,  old bones, hair, and fur that combines to make a particularly large and vile nest. The northern wall is smashed, opening on rubble-strewn darkness.

Quite understandably, Meepo refused to enter this charnel chamber but  Myrtle and Ginny easily cross the pit and enter the lair.

Three dire rats emerge immediately emerge from the nest and swarm down towards the adventurers! Ginny throws up her hands in horror of the filthy rodents and casts a magical web which only ensnares one of the vile beasts. She leaps back of the pit in retreat and leaves Myrtle to face her fate alone.

The two monstrous rats leap up onto Myrtle like small dogs who are happy to see her, except for the yellow pitted teeth that slash at her. Wounded, the cleric bashed at one with her spiked club, but fails to drive it away.

Then, from the top of the nest, a large portion of the detritus on the nest rises! An ancient dire rat, 6-foot long, charges down the nest and slams into the cleric. Myrtle was well on her guard and managed to avoid the worst effects of the attack.

Ginny reconsidered her position. She armed her spear and leapt back across the pit and into the fray. Her strike ground the point of the spear into stone as it passed over her intended target. The rat darted in and struck home, taking down its prey.

Still fighting, Myrtle has no time to mourn her fallen comrade. Desperately, she calls upon her god for help and slams her palm down on the head of the rat-zilla. Bile rises in her throat as she feels the greasy, filthy, matted fur beneath her fingers but the coursing energies of the curse flowed outward and wracked the beast with agony (inflict minor wounds).  The cleric’s efforts were insufficient to save her life, though. The rats dragged her down and feasted on pair.

Post Game

Even though this was the first role-playing game the sisters had ever played, I tried very hard not to offer any advice and allow them to face the challenges of the game in their own way. However, I did take some time to talk about the game with them afterwards before pulling out The Legend of Drizzt (which we lost, but enjoyed none-the-less).

The girls are looking forward to playing again and I asked them if they would mind if were changed gears and used an older, simpler version of D&D. I explained that it wasn’t an issue of whether I though that they could handle the Pathfinder rules or not. With a simpler rules-set, they could handle two characters each and have more adventurers in the game. If there was only two of them, they could explore safely (or relatively so). I someone new decided to try, they could take one of the extra characters or create a new one in 5-10 minutes.

I have access to the classic D&D (pre-advanced) rules and modules now. I though that I would try one of those, but now I think that I will see if I can use one of the old modules with Old School Hack instead. I haven’t tried OSH yet, but it looks fun, simple, and totally in line with what I aim to do. The new game will start on the first Saturday of February.

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~ by Hunter Rose on January 8, 2012.

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