It’s been 2 years since our last HORROR ON THE HILL session with the famed Ashtel Lumberton, Snachus Maximus 2, Nerdlinger and Tor Horst (and Ulug and Glug the Mongoloids). So I bring you, in as little detail as possible to not put you immediately to sleep, part 2 of our sad story of murder, robbery and death.
I want to preface this with the following few statements. Old School D20 games are not great for combat, focused more on getting through combats fairly quickly and having MORE rather than having few, but meaningful combats (like, say, Runequest) and yet, many of the old school modules involved nearly only combat throughout. Things have changed since 1981, and while the occurrence and ability in combat is still an important thing in OSR games, in most systems, fighting a lot means you are doing very, very badly and your party is likely to get wiped out. In many cases in the description of play below, the only way through certain obstacles is to fight through. This module began to feel like playing Advanced Heroquest and that’s because that’s what it is. So this is not indicative of what a normal Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventure is like- if indeed there is such a thing.
In addition, unlike 4E, 5E and 13th Age, there is no concept of short or long rests, recoveries or anything like that in LotFP or Labyrinth Lord. Any time heavy damage is dealt to characters, and especially with the brutal healing rules in Lamentations of the Flame Princess, it requires multiple, multiple-week trips back to town to recover from injuries rather than fighting onward deeper into the dungeon. Remember, unless the characters find a polder, they cannot rest in the dungeon at all. Since the play is so brutal (most players had multiple characters die), play is naturally conservative, so even the M-U being out of spells may require a trip back to town. This seemed to frustrate the GM, but what choice do the players have really? 13th Age and 5E added recoveries and rests in to keep it in the dungeon and not back at the tavern after every fight.
Lastly, we were not high enough level for this adventure, and it became painfully obvious! Now let’s go!
- Snachus Maximus 2: Fighter level 2
- Ashtel Lumberton: MU (with sleep) level 2
- Tor Horst: Fighter level 2
- Nerdlinger: Cleric (bless most of the time) level 1
- Mcunty Ruffbottom (not his real name): Fighter level 1
- Lars: linkboy
- Colon Defiltch: rescued thief
- Grul and Uleg: rescued Mongoloids
- Ashtel’s dog (the last one remaining from last session)
Another VERY fighter heavy group, with no Specialists of any kind, we were bound to have problems. Clerics at level 1 are nearly useless, and MU’s can be based on their random spells.
This was about the third time we hit this dungeon, and it got restocked repeatedly. Exploring slightly beyond the areas we’d been in before, we found a pile of human bodies with some gibberish hobgoblin words of warning written in blood. Shortly after a fight with two Bugbears ensued. Ulug, bravely, took the brunt of the attacks and went down and out before the bugbears were disposed of. Tor Horst broke his axe.
This took Ulug and Grul out of the story a bit as Grul dragged the limp body of Ulug back to his people.
After a fortuitous secret door check, we found what I feel is one of the most terrible magical items in D&D: the invisibility ring. The cleric grabbed it and put it on. Since we didn’t have a specialist and he was level one, no one minded much, but if you want a character to take center stage and do everything, give the adventurers an invisibility ring with no drawbacks at all to use. It’s pretty much a “I’ll survive the adventure no matter what” card.
After a fight with some glowing birds (?!), we were on to the final fight of this level with the Hobgoblin King, or so we thought. Using the invisibility, we were able to draw out a barracks of hobgoblins into a fork in the passageway and a massive fight ensued. Colin the thief was decapitated, Ashtel’s dog was also nearly killed and Snatchus Maximus 2 was dropped to zero HP before Sleep was cast to end the encounter. We opted not to go on to the now more vulnerable Hobgoblin king fight, instead running back to town to heal– for five full days.
This caused some GM frustration who wanted to get to the next part of the dungeon (it being 2 years and all in the same area). Given the number of fights this module presents (pretty much constant fighting) you can see why recoveries, short rests and long rests made it into the D&D’s design with 4th Edition and beyond, to try to keep players in the dungeon! Lamentations has no such niceties, so if you are going to fight fight fight, best to be running multiple characters.
After the rest up, we were back in the dungeon ready to face the Hobgoblin King, who, for simplicity sake, looks like he just waited in his throne room for us. Rather than rush in and fight, or sneak in and fight, we challenged the Hobking to a duel, which he accepted readily. He was to fight the first level character: McCunty Ruffbottom. The plan was that McCunty was to fire off his brace of pistols, then we would all rush in, cast sleep, and start killing hobgoblins in earnest. Since the barracks was all cleaned out, there weren’t that many left anyway.
The plan didn’t work out too well. Mcunty did fire his pistols, but missed and was struck down by the Hobgoblin King forever. While the multiple sleep spells from Ashtel helped cut the hobgoblin numbers down, that couldn’t save poor Grul, the last of the Mongoloids, nor Ashtel’s “lumberdog” who was crushed underfoot by the Hobgoblin king. Eventually, the 20 AC fighters wore down the King and he was eventually dispatched.
That wasn’t the end to the killing, as another well found secret door revealed a couple of trapped chests, and Tor Horst failed his saving throw vs poison and instantly died.
The treasure was bountiful, and since we had a Portable Hole at this point (as well as the invisible ring) it was off to town to collect experience for the three survivors: Nerdlinger, Ashtel Lumberton and Snatchus Maximus.
Stay tuned for part three! Where more characters die and there aren’t any mongoloids…