Friday, March 11, 2011

AD&D/OSRIC campaign - Requiem for a warrior/mage

I had a post set up musing about charm person but events at last night's game are worthy of note. Last night, one of the more powerful characters, Teela the elven fighter/mage, played by Bryan N. fell.

The party crept into the strange room, populated by a large metal table and chairs. A very thick layer of dust covered the furniture, but strange ridges in a pattern could be seen in the dust covering, as if the table bore some strange symbols in its surface. At one corner of the table, the dust appeared disturbed, as if someone long ago had push it aside, the covering here was much lighter. The chairs around this area were lying on their backs, pushed away in a haphazard manner. 

The party was exploring an area of the Dwarf mines, searching again for the "Hall of Records" to find treasure. Their other paths had not been fruitful and they found themselves winding through rooms with corroded, rusting metal shelves and debris, gear-works and strange pipes.

Rhys, the ranger, moved over to the eastern wall to cover the other exit. Dargellon, the ranger, stayed close to Teela, peering at the table while Talos, the druid, hung back at the south entrance to the room. Teela looked at the disturbed dust and confidently swiped her arm over the table and strange symbols, which revealed themselves to be part of a map! 

"Look!" she said excitedly. "It's a map with ancient Dwarf symbols wri...." and then the dust "exploded" with a burst of yellow spores, filling the corner of the room her and Dargellon stood in!

Yea... Yellow Mold. This is the same Yellow Mold trap, in the same room, on the same table, that claimed a character almost two years ago.  Bryan's character moved the dust, the 50% chance of spores popping hit and then the dice rolled for saving throws. Both players opted to invoke the d30 rule to give themselves higher chances of rolling their saves.

Dargellon coughed and gasped, stumbling away from the cloud of spores as both Rhys and Talos shouted in horror at the sight. Dargellon hacked and spat phlegm a few times and stood up, his face pale. 

"I'm OK." he gasped. Then they both turned to look at Teela, who was lying on the floor next to the table. Her breath wheezed in gasps as she clawed at her throat and chest. The spores were settling down, but Teela's fate was already sealed.

Bryan needed to roll a 13 on the d30, he rolled a 7. The stunned looks on everyone's face, including mine, and even the store owner, who had been watching us play, told the tale. Teela was dead from poison. After 11 sessions over 14 months, gaining 10,354 XP, the third level fighter/third level mage was brought down. It was a pretty heavy moment and the mood grew extremely somber.

I gave Teela 6 turns to do as she wanted, I left it up to Bryan. Bryan plays another character, Jorann the cleric, and he willed most of his wealth and possessions to Jorann, which I allowed. Bryan has run both characters faithfully especially for moments where he might lose one. He's been cooperative in not linking the two as mules or trying to exploit them once we figured out how playing two characters worked best in my campaign. Teela had become a somewhat mysterious, but visible figure in the town of Enonia - becoming friends with the only NPC mage in town and serving as a type of informal ambassador for the Elven nation. She had faced terrible monsters, seen the effects of Chaos under the abandoned monastery of St. Eggyx and helped to explore the wild lands east of Enonia. This was someone that Bryan had put 14 months into, and it required consideration, respect and some understanding.

"Please give these to Jorann... and take what you need. I am almost gone." Teela gasped as her party members lay her gently on the ground. They had trekked as quick as they could to escape the mines, but civilization and help was just too far away. Her companions looked shocked and bereft and the two hirelings Aldred and Killas stood quietly in respect. 

The end was quick and merciful and Dargellon swore to take her to Jorann and pass word to the elves so that her family could bear her away.

Bryan stayed in the game as one of the hirelings and he had a good nature about it. Bryan and I had to come to an understanding early on of how things worked. Bryan's a good player, he knows the rules, he is skilled at many things and most importantly, he understands the fairness and risks of the game. He was disappointed, but he was a good sport. We all were sympathetic. It was hard for Bryan to shift out of "Teela" mode, and we all joked that somehow Teela had gotten into "Killa's head" as Killas suddenly seemed to know a great deal about the mines, similar to how Teela had known.

It was a shock, to see a powerful character like Teela be brought down by lowly Yellow Mold, but that's the game. The remaining party made sure to burn the mold and pushed on, facing an undead shadow which they killed with fire and the use of the druidic shillelagh spell. They pushed on to places dark and deep, but the Hall of Records eluded them and they were forced to turn back.

Silently, the party made their way back to Enonia. Their grim visages warned the usually inquisitive guards away, who watched in a bit of awe as the returning adventurers bore Teela's body between them. They made their way to the humble church of Tangorin where a distraught Jorann ushered them in. Slowly, the rumors started spreading that one of the mightiest of of the strange adventurers of Enonia had fallen in the deadly Dwarf mines.

Farewell, Teela. You were fun to have in my game and you will be missed.


Al said...

Nice post. And an important trademark of old-school games - a good character death is just as memorable as a successful adventure.

Anonymous said...

Never quite understood the 'fear of death' for characters.

When I got back into RPGs I played in a short (by design) Pathfinder campaign. It was a different sensibility. During one big fight, my character, which had been an annoyance to the party, was getting seriously low on hit points. Well, he wasn't going to run, or ask for help, nature of his character. I was kind of looking forward to the inevitable death scene. The DM of all people ratted me out. And the party went to extremes to get a healer to him in the middle of the fight.

Frankly, I thought it was bad roleplaying on their part. did they really think I'd be that upset at losing a character?

Scott said...

Ha! That yellow mold never got Harold!

James said...

Thank you for posting this!

Jim said...

This is a great post. Thanks for sharing. These are the kind of moments that are hallmarks of an old school game. A shared history with its ups and downs; its triumphs and its tragedies.

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

Thanks for the kind comments! I agree, a good death, even one that is well played from a yellow mold, is a hallmark of good play.