AD&D Yrth campaign session 5: The best little keep on the borderlands

This session was really packed with action — none of the PCs had immediate missions or goals so we just decided to explore the area and caves a bit more.  Marc, who plays the paladin, could not make this session, but everyone else was on hand: Matt (Galad of the Golden Egg, m-u), Richard (Geiron the Mighty, ranger), Chad (“Master” Bader, dwarf fighter/cleric), John (Alaban, elf m-u/thief), and myself (Brother Morax, half-orc assassin/cleric).

First my PC broke into and looted the heretic friar’s home, using the platemail looted from one of his acolytes as a disguise to avoid suspicion.  I got some coinage and an odd book about ‘opening gates to the underworld’ which also linked the heretic friar to a cult of a goblin saint/wizard. Busy, busy, busy.

Then as a party we set off to look into the shack we saw in the marsh.  It turned out to be home to lizardfolk, and the four adults attacked us on sight.  We realized (after killing them) that the other lizardmen we’d found in the marsh must have been a hunting, rather than war, party, and when we found six young and six eggs hiding in the shack, even the icy heart of Morax the Rutterkin/Adept shrank from slaying them.  He eventually remembered that lizardmen are deemed to have souls (oops!) and even serve the Church as warriors, so he brought the lot of them to the curate back at the Keep as orphans. Some of the other adventurers regretted missing out on “lizardman omelets” but I think the fewer monsters we eat, the fewer juveniles we murder, and the fewer eggs we abort, the better — at least when they are humanoid.  I’ll stomp on carrion crawler eggs or kill baby basilisks with the best of them.

Next, the party spent some time in town, getting some training (a weapon master offered to teach proficiency in any weapon for $400) while the magic-user met a mentor who taught him a few more spells.  Thus bolstered, we felt ready to explore the caves some more.  We decided to approach from above rather than walk right into the valley like we own the place, and we ended up choosing a cave that had a sign outside it reading “Safety and repose for all humanoids who enter” (in orcish, goblin, and kobold, rather like a royal Hellenistic proclamation…).  Sensing a trap we sent the elf ahead to scout out the caves, where he was surprised by a bugbear.  A few minutes later the rest of party began to wonder what was keeping him so we followed and find the elf being prepared for a spit.  We slew the three bugbears at some cost and decided to flee with the elf.  Hating to leave a dungeon empty-handed, Morax stole a gong hanging near the entrance but then threw it down into the valley, creating a noise that drew nothing more than furtive peeks from the orc caves.

We made yet another foray, which was much longer and more lucrative, although we came close to TPK (total party kill) country a couple of times.  Continuing in the bugbear cave, we barged in on the bugbear chief and his concubine, who gave the party some trouble, as they actually surprised us (probably an eye bleach moment for our hapless PCs to witness bugbear foreplay).  A sleep spell and a command spell put them both out though and we recovered a goodly pile of loot.  In the bugbear chief’s love nest we found a secret door which led to a corridor, that ended with another secret door, and beyond that, caves, where we fought some glowing beetles and then were badly mauled by stirges, which brought us all to single digit or negative hit points.  Things looked grim.  Our spells were mostly spent, we were low on hit points, and we were quite far from the way in.  We began to back track, hoping to hole up in the corridor with the two secret doors, which seemed like the safest place nearby.  But on our way we found an armored minotaur munching on the dead fire beetles!  We fought desperately, and Brother Morax saved the day again by killing the thing with a poisoned arrow.  From there we followed the minotaur’s tracks back to his lair, and found another vast haul of loot.  But still we were precariously perched on the edge of a TPK.  Fortunately, the elf found another passage from the caverns leading to the surface, and we fled back to the Keep to count our coins, identify magic items, and in some cases … level up!

We may not be playing this campaign again for a while (the DM is likely to travel next week and has a baby coming any day after that) but we certainly ended on a high note.

The post-game chit chat touched on B2: The keep on the Borderlands (which the DM is running, with a lot of modifications).  Salient points:

  • Tom noted that the later the edition of D&D you’re playing, the easier the module gets (in Basic it is a real killer; in 3rd it would be kind of a pushover)
  • Also, the treasure far exceeds the expected treasures in the DMG (I don’t know if he compared it to the B/X rules)
  • John recalled a rumor that TSR modules were intentionally over-laden with treasure so that players would want to play (i.e., BUY) them
  • I mentioned that I’d read that B2 was written mainly to secure royalties for EGG as the other module packaged in the Holmes set was by someone else & Gary wanted to make sure he was getting “a taste”
  • For all that, we agreed it is a fairly awesome module, whether or not it is deadly, “Monty Hall,” illogical, etc.

(I’ve been wanting to use the line “Best little keep on the Borderlands” for years now…)

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Published in: on September 9, 2011 at 6:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. B2 (and L1) are great examples of what I consider the ‘play’ modules. The texts are oversaturated with monsters and treasures, ensuring that the players will get a slice of adventure when it is played.

    It may seem that the content is contrived or just silly, but it’s actually better than the late Gygaxian ‘literary’ modules, because modules like B2 were expressly written as a means to an end, and not an end unto themselves.

    ‘Best Little Keep On The Borderlands’ should be the title of a Mini-Con homage to B2…

  2. Work got the best of me the later half of last week and I didn’t get to do a write up for Badur’s Journal. So I am definitely glad that you got a summary up Mike.

    I really thought B2 was a fun and entertaining module. I also liked the little side quests that Tom had whipped up for us when we first set out. I thought it was also cool that Tom played along with my brewing roleplay and was able to end up with a stout ale before all was said and done.

    The fights were frantic and fun last session but one small point of correction… Master Badur was not even actually hit from the stirges. I don’t know if it was a dwarf height thing that saved him or his masterful skill with that longsword but that was by far the luckiest fight he had the entire adventure!

    All in all it was great fun to play such a class module.


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