Another Tuesday, another run into the depths of the Temple of Illhan the Binder – looking for the lost treasure of a fallen paladin that is supposedly locked away somewhere in the depths. This is the fourth installment of our Tuesday night Moldvay Basic D&D game that I am playing in instead of running. You can read the previous expeditions here:
- First Expedition – and first TPK!
- Second Expedition – Less valor, more success.
- Third Expedition – Twice more into the breach!
Last night’s expedition was a power-delve. We loaded up with extra weapons, made sure everyone had top-notch armor, and memorized our first ever Cure Light Wounds spells (two of them – the benefit of having two level 2 clerics in the party).
We approached the entrance carefully, watching for treacherous halflings and other tomb-robbers. Sure enough, someone had left a few retainers in the ruins of the temple proper with some mules and horses. Seems we were definitely no longer the only explorers here. Wanting to be the first ones down to the lower levels, we took a secret passage we had found last week to a section of level 2 that contained a chimney shaft leading down at least 50 feet – hopefully to the fourth level of the dungeon.
Fortunately the room at the bottom of the chimney was empty and seemed long abandoned. Exploring this section of the level found us against a few pit vipers and undead (ghouls at first, and zombies). Battling ghouls we had to take up defensive lines back into the corridor quickly in order to provide them with minimal access to our team – three attacks per round per ghoul makes for a lot of saves against paralysis – fortunately having an elf on the front line reduced the overall danger and a pair of clerics in the second line worked to our advantage.
We mapped out a total of ten rooms on the level and exhausted all our options except for a stairway down again to a deeper level of the temple. Before heading down, we found a fairly defensible room, spiked the doors, healed up and rested.
Down the stairs, a maze of rooms awaited, filled with a variety of foul creatures. We had to fight our way through a section that had been taken over by neanderthals of all things – but were rewarded after slaying their leader by the discovery that his fearsome strength wasn’t purely natural, but was enhanced by a pair of magical gauntlets he was wearing. Now equipped with our first major magic item, we continued to encounter the probable owners of the horses we had seen on the surface – a young noble and his entourage were down here, and we walked in on them cleaning their weapons having already looted the bodies of some neanderthal guards. Before we could even talk to them, they leapt upon us, attacking with abandon. A quick blow from the noble killed our young fighter, but the course of the battle shifted quickly with a pair of sleep spells. While we were too late to save our Kedrack the Axe (our fighter), we recovered treasure, jewelry and a magic shield from the bodies of the noble and his entourage.
Now wary of other explorers, we continued through this maze of interconnected rooms, listening at every door and watching for torchlight… but were just not prepared to be ambushed by ghouls who made no noise and required no light. Shy our fighter (again), and with our magic user and elf not having any spells appropriate for the undead, we quickly found ourselves in a tough spot – our leader Bethunel paralyzed along with her friend Rudrick the scout and the rest of the team engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the fell creatures. It was only a series of skillful attacks by the elf Eseron and a high-rolling Turn Undead check by the desperate and nearly dead Coruhn that ended the battle in our favor.
And then to make it worse as we were mopping up and waiting for the paralysis to lift on our friends, another noble’s party attacked us while our guard was down. The battle was ugly again, fighting on the defensive but not willing to abandon our paralyzed companions. Fortunately Eseron was a one-elf killing machine assisted by his gauntlets of ogre power and the last spell from our wizard eliminated the majority of the noble’s men-at-arms.
We collected the treasure dropped by the noble and his squire (including a magic sword which the elf claimed as his rightful bounty which turned out to be a sword +1, +3 vs undead) and headed to the surface again to recover (and level up) and recruit a new fighter. It was as we were leaving that we found the bodies of another group of adventurers, slain some weeks ago and chewed on by giant lizards of some kind. We were definitely not the only explorers of these ruins.