Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 7

In Part 6 of my solo Keep on the Borderlands playthrough, the Banner of the Bleeding Wheel arrived at the Keep just in time to help put out some fires and repel an invasion by the forces of Chaos. Thanks to their heroics (and the fact that everyone else has their hands full), the Corporal tasked the Banner with chasing the retreating kobolds down the Keep’s well and finding out how the beasts got in.

Scene. A Night to Worry.

Setup: The company gets lodging and rests up before their mission
Chaos: 14 vs 3-, no event

Are there any rooms available at the Traveler’s Inn? +2: Yes.

The Banner takes up residence at the Traveler’s Inn, although the fire next door has made the air inside acrid and stale. Hannibal hands the innkeeper 10 silver pieces for a private room for the women to share and another 7 silvers for space in the common room for the men. Another twenty silver pieces buy the whole troop dinner and a breakfast of bread, butter, and thin soup.

Israel prays for healing for Zephaniah Poole, and the Holy Spirit answers him [heals 5 hp, back to max].

Hannibal sends Miles, Modesty, and Richard Lanius to the stables. They feed both donkeys and retrieve 30 gold pieces from the pouches hidden in the feed bags, then head to the provisioner’s to buy a set of thieves’ tools.

Can they find one? +6: No, but… +Event
Event: Ambiguous — Betray/Danger

The provisioner’s shop is closed when they arrive. [1-2: him, 3-4: wife, 5-6: kids] The man sits weeping on the front porch, the body of his wife in his arms.

The party moves onward, not wanting to disturb the man. The trader has a set available, although he is quick to charge a premium when he learns what they’re looking for. [+4% cost] Miles hands over 31 gold pieces and two silver for the set of picks, files, and pliers.

That evening, Israel retreats to the women’s private room to devote himself to prayer while they sleep. He prays for the strength to detect evil and heal his companions’ wounds twice.

Reminder: You can find links to every one of my solo session game reports on my Campaign Logs page.

Scene. Into the Dungeon.

Setup: Follow the kobolds into the well
Chaos: 11 vs 3-, no event

The next morning, the Corporal sees the party off as they descend into the well. The rope drops them [d6x10] 40 feet into the darkness before they come to a pool of waist-deep water.

Dungeon Size: No more than 280′ by 410′, the size of the plateau
Odds of Locked Doors: -8 (the monsters were not expecting invasion)

I created a wandering monster and general encounter list for this dungeon. Any time a monster appears, either in a room or a wandering encounter, I’ll roll from this list.

1-2) Kobolds
3-4) Goblins
5-6) Hobgoblins
7-8) Duergar
9-10) Orcs
11-12) Skeletons
13-14) Striges
15) Morlocks
16) Fire Beetles
17) Giant Centipedes
18) Ghouls (d3)
19) Gnolls (d3)
20) Bugbears (d2)

1. Bottom of the Well

A narrow crack in the northern wall allows a single man to squeeze through at a time. Hannibal takes the lead, shield in front, as Modesty comes behind with a torch held aloft. Mercy lights her lantern and holds in to cast light over the rest of the party.

The crack soon opens into a rough corridor. A flimsy door has been built into the wall here, but it swings open at a touch.

The party passes through as a group, then they form up into a loose, staggered line, with Hannibal and Zaccheus in front and a pair of spearmen behind them. Mercy and Israel stand in the middle, followed by the scouts with their bows at the ready. Comfort and Richard bring up the rear.

Marching OrderMarching Order
Hannibal (sword)Zaccheus (sword)
Zephaniah (spear)Balthasar (spear)
Mercy (lantern)Israel (mace)
Modesty (bow)Miles (bow)
Comfort (sword)Richard (sword)

The corridor ahead bends northwest, and the party advances along the rough-hewn tunnel.

A. Wandering Monsters — Skeletons

3d4 Skeletons: 9
Surprise Check: 6 vs 2-, no
Skeleton: HD 1, AC 12, Melee (d6, +0), MV 20′, ML 12, XP 13

The light of their torches falls on the matte, damp-stained bones of the dead, which animate as the party gets closer.

NameHPInitiative
Balthasar7/76
Israel6/66
Modesty4/45
Zaccheus5/85
Comfort7/75
Richard7/75
Zephaniah7/74
Skeleton 16/64
Skeleton 24/44
Skeleton 37/74
Skeleton 48/84
Skeleton 56/64
Skeleton 65/54
Skeleton 75/54
Skeleton 84/44
Skeleton 91/14
Hannibal9/93
Miles6/62
Mercy4/41

The fight is a grind as the armored men and women smash into the line of dead, their weapons fighting hard to find a weakness in the magically animated bones [nearly everyone misses] as Israel falls into prayer, calling on God to drive away the devil’s dead [fails his first turn attempt]. The other warriors move forward, spears and shields up, and manage to pull down one of the front skeletons and crack a few ribs from the second.

Unfortunately, Comfort’s forward position leaves her vulnerable. She takes a painful scratch on the neck [3 dmg, 4 left]. Balthasar roars in rage and strikes out at the skeleton in revenge, knocking its head from its shoulders.

Suddenly, Israel lets out a mighty shout. With the light of God he wades forward, and the mass of dead fall back [succeeds in turning the whole group]. Comfort and Zephaniah lash out with their spears and another skeleton falls as it turns to run.

Hannibal chases them a half-dozen yards down the corridor, swiping with his sword and splitting the last skeleton in half at the spine just before it vanished beyond the circle of lantern light.

“Captain!” Modesty cries out. Hannibal suddenly realizes where he is. He throws his shield up in front of him and falls back from the darkness, retreating to the party.

Chagrined by his own lack of discipline, Hannibal forms the party up on him and they resume their methodical march forward. They soon come to a branch in the corridor, where the tunnel splits to the north and the east. They peer into the dark, but nothing can be seen in either direction. They go east.

10 minutes have passed.

2. Stalagmite Chamber

Size: 30’x30′ chamber
Contents: Unique — lie/liberty (a dead slave who thought he escaped)
Any treasure? -6: Yes!

The corridor soon opens into a small chamber. The room is filled with natural columns that make it hard to navigate. In one corner of the room, they find a desiccated corpse in leg irons and tattered rags.

The party prods the skeleton with a 10′ pole, but it does not rise. They examine the body and its surroundings and soon find a small chest amid a pile of stones–something hidden in the moments before death?

20 minutes have passed.

Miles and Modesty take turns examining the chest and its latch, [both fail checks] but they find nothing. Taking a deep breath, they open the lid–and find a pile of glittering silver and gold!

Treasure: 500 sp, 30 gp

The party splits the coins [each PC can carry 10xSTR coins without encumbrance, in keeping with old-fashioned big coins] before heading south out of the chamber.

B. Wandering Monsters — Stirges

The tunnel extends just a few yards before it branches, sending shoots off south and west.

Wandering Monster!

Stirges: HD1, AC 12, Bite (d3, +2, ongoing damage), MV 60′, ML 9, XP 16
Surprise: 5 vs 2-, no surprise
Init: 2 vs 1, party wins
Distance: (1d4-1)x10′ = 0′, right on top of us

Suddenly, a wet flapping sound fills the air. The party throws up their shields and blades as [1d10] four thick-bellied, long nosed, bat-like creatures fall out of the darkness into their midst!

The whole party is a mass of blades and confusion as the beasts fall on heads and begin scraping madly with claws and proboscises.

Who is latched on to? Richard, Miles, Israel, Hannibal

They beat madly at the beasts with sword and spear. Mercy manages to use her dagger to knock the beast off of the cleric’s back, and he follows up with a skull-crushing swipe of his mace to finish it off [1 dmg and then 6 dmg kills it]. The soldiers at the front are able to pull the beast from the Captain’s shoulders and pin it to the floor with their long spears.

The two at the back, though, remain stubbornly attached to Miles and Richard, resisting any attempt to dislodge them. The two scouts drop their bows and draw their axes. Miles cries out as the one on his shoulders sinks its mouth into his neck and drinks deeply from a vein [1 dmg, 5 hp left], but Richard’s thrashing buys him enough time that the monster’s mouth can’t find purchase around his chain.

The party pull Miles and Richard into their midst, so that stronger hands can pull at the monsters attacking them. The mindless animals are subdued quickly, and Israel works to wrap bandages around the wound in Miles’s neck.

Wandering Monster check: Yes (dang!)
11 Kobolds from the west corridor
Surprise: 5 vs 2-, they don’t surprise us
Does the party see them before they attack? -2: Yes!
Initiative: 1 vs 6, they go first

The party stands panting, gasping for breath after the sudden attack, but they get no reprieve. From the west they hear the howling, barking laughter of kobolds!

They come charging out of the western tunnel, appearing out of the gloom and skittering into the party line.

Is a chieftain present? -6: No + Event
Event: Introduce New NPC — Create/Leadership
Is the new NPC a friend to us? +0: No, and… he’s a classed warrior

A human stands in the middle of the pack–a man, dressed in clean chain and dark leather. He shouts a garbled phrase at the kobolds and they bark in response and he wades toward the fight.

NPC Fighter (F1): 9-12-10-10-11-13, AC 14 (Chain), Sword and Dagger (d8, +1), MV 30′, ML 8.

Kobolds (11): d4 HD, AC 11 (dex), Spear (d6-1, +0), MV 20′, ML 7 (bonus because of leader)

The kobolds collide with the party from the side tunnel, spears out as they break into the line. The first charge goes awry, however–the company’s chain and shield turning nearly all the points. Only Miles, the scout, is hit seriously [3 dmg, 2 hp left].

Zephaniah lashes out with his spear, impaling one of the nearest kobolds, while Modesty’s bow sends an arrow into the pack, narrowly missing another [1 dmg, 2 hp left]. The others slash ineffectively and jostle to get in position to attack their foes.

Another few moments pass, and then the tide breaks. The rabid fury of the kobolds can’t hold against the Wheel’s discipline. Two more kobolds fall, and then the morale of the others waver. Two scamper back into the darkness, but the human commander’s imposing shout keeps the others pressing forward into the fray. He charges in ahead of his minions, pressing them aside, and feints with his sword while his dagger swings for Comfort’s thigh. A stray buckle catches the blade and turns it aside [missed his attack by 1].

The party isn’t shaken. They slay the kobolds on either side of him, and then Israel, emboldened by God, charges into the gap and slams his mace down on the warrior’s shoulder [3 dmg, 5 hp]. The man looks shaken, but he refuses to flee [passes a morale check].

His determination means doom for the party. Led by his blades, their spears find a chink in Comfort’s armor, spearing her through the gut [4 dmg, 0 hp]. She falls, gasping, aside.

Roaring, Hannibal slams his blade through the skull of the kobold who did it, and the others follow. Soon, they surround the man of Chaos and his remaining kobold ally.

Both speak in strange tongues as they refuse to yield, lifting up their blades against certain doom. Soon enough, the warrior stands alone against the party.

“Yield!” Hannibal demands, lifting his sword to the man’s throat.

A moment later, the man is dead–Richard’s spear juts through his neck, blood coursing down the haft.

“Why?!” Hannibal cries out. “He could have said…”

“His dagger,” Richard says, pointing to the blade on the ground behind the man’s back. “He was preparing to throw it. You all saw.” No one else saw anything.

Wandering Monster check: 2 vs 6, none!

It soon becomes clear that Comfort is dead, but they have no ability to recover her now. They take her coin purse and lay her carefully in the side corridor, then head off west in pursuit of the fleeing kobolds.

The pass a door, closed tightly, and follow the corridor into a small chamber.

30 minutes have passed.

3. Unstable Chamber

Size: 20’x30′
Contents: Empty
Description: fearfully/weak
Are the fleeing kobolds here? +0: Yes

The chamber is empty save for the cowering kobolds who fled earlier. The walls and floor here are made of loose rubble, and dust tumbles down from above. The party charges in behind a salvo of arrows and finishes off the remaining kobolds. They take the time to search the corpses, recovering only 33 copper coins.

They search the rest of the room, but find nothing.

40 minutes have passed.

Returning to the main corridor, they loot the rest of the kobolds while Miles and Modesty examine the door in the northern wall.

The party has just recovered 128 copper coins when the two thieves come back. “There’s something on the other side of that door,” Miles says.

4. Rotten Midden

Size: 30’x40′
Contents: Monster (giant centipedes)
Description: healthily/disgusting

The door swings open onto a room full of hot, humid refuse. The stench of excrement and spoiled food assails the party. The sound Miles heard was several large centipedes crawling amidst the garbage, occasionally upsetting some large, hard piece of trash.

Backing away, the party closes the door and returns to the corridor behind them, turning south at the branch.

5. Slave Camp

Size: 20’x20′
Contents: Unique (break/prison)

The corridor soon opens into a small chamber, narrowed out of a longer tunnel running north and south.

Are there still slaves here? -2: No.

Heavy iron manacles lie on the floor in several places, and broken tools litter one corner of the room. This is where the slaves who dug these works camped, at least for a while.

50 minutes have passed.

The party returns to the stalagmite chamber, dragging the chaos warrior and Comfort’s body with them. They take turns resting while they roughly strip the chainmail from the chaos warrior’s body. They leave Comfort to rest in peace, tucked away in a corner near the body of the escaped slave.

Israel prays for Hannibal’s recovery. The captain feels better, but in that dark place he doubts that he’ll ever feel fully himself again [+3 hp, 1 dmg left].

60 minutes have passed.

Wrapping Up

Experience and Treasure

8 skeletons (1HD) — 104 xp
4 stirges (1HD) — 64 xp
11 kobolds (d4 HD) — 55 xp
1 Fighter 1 (1HD) — 10 xp
30 gp, 500 sp, 161 cp — 81 xp

To be divided: 128 cp

Mythic Stuff

NPC: Saboteur in the Keep, Corporal, Castellan

Threads: Explore the tunnels beneath the Keep

The Company

Marching OrderMarching Order
Hannibal (sword)Zaccheus (sword)
Zephaniah (spear)Balthasar (spear)
Mercy (lantern)Israel (mace)
Modesty (bow)Miles (bow)
Richard (sword)

Hannibal Emmitt: F1 (6 xp), 8/9 hp, 12-8-13-11-8-16. Atk: Sword (d8, +0). AC 14 (chain, shield, -dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), chainmail, waterskin, torches (8), 50′ rope, flint. 16 gp 68 sp. Leader, crippled sailor. 

Mercy Rouse: MU1 (6 xp), 4/4 hp, 8-16-11-15-8-10. Atk: Dagger (d4-1, -1). AC 12 (dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8), spell book, flint, lantern (10). 8 gp 52 sp. Spells: Sleep*, Read Magic, Invisibility. Wise woman. 

Israel Clemont: C1 (6 xp), 6/6 hp, 15-8-11-11-15-10. Atk: Mace (d6+1, +1). AC 14 (chain, shield, -dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8). Spells: Cure Light Wounds*, Detect Evil*. 12 gp 58 sp. Brewer.

Balthasar Hill: F1 (6 xp), 7/7 hp, 15-10-7-5-12-11. Atk: Sword (d8+1, +1), Spear (d6+1, +1). AC 15 (chain, shield). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8). 7 gp 116 sp. Bridlemaker.

Zephaniah Poole: F1 (6 xp), 7/7 hp, 13-14-8-9-11-9. Atk: Sword (d8+1, +1), Spear (d6+1, +1). AC 16 (chain, shield, dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8). 11 gp 56 sp 50 cp. Armorer.

Zaccheus McCanless: F1 (6 xp), 5/8 hp, 13-15-12-14-13-11. Atk: Sword (d8+1, +1). AC 16 (chain, shield, dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8). 7 gp 60 sp 33 cp. Cooper.

Richard Lanius: F1 (6 xp), 7/7 hp, 13-12-7-8-13-6. Atk: Sword (d8+1, +1), Spear (d6+1, +1). AC 15 (chain, shield). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8). 7 gp 51 sp. Farmer.

Miles Sinkler: T1 (6 xp), 2/6 hp, 7-14-9-14-13-14. Atk: Axe (d6-1, -1), Shortbow (d6-1, +1, 19 arrows). AC 13 (leather, dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8), 10′ pole, 50′ rope, thieves’ tools. 8 gp 58 sp. Roofer.

Modesty Boyd: T1 (6 xp), 4/4 hp, 5-15-5-12-9-10. Atk: Axe (d6-2, -2), Shortbow (d6-2, +1, 15 arrows). AC 13 (leather, dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8), 10′ pole, flint. 3 gp 8 sp 10 cp. Bookbinder.

DEAD Comfort Stewart: F1 (6 xp), 0/7 hp, 13-10-8-7-12-16. Atk: Sword (d8+1, +1), Spear (d6+1, +1). AC 15 (chain, shield). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8). Sergeant, butcher.

Donkey 1: Feed (14), 10 gp

Donkey 2: Feed (14), 32 gp 4 sp

One thought on “Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 7

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