Last time we had to cut off pretty abruptly, so we picked up basically right where we left off: standing outside the practice dungeon, and toasting the new incarnation of the Ivory Scimitars with Lord Aldenmier. The two rogues told Lord Aldenmier about the ghost they encountered, and he avowed that he knew nothing of any ghosts in his practice dungeon and promptly retired to his bed, telling the group he would see them over breakfast in the morning. An elderly servant showed them to their rooms, and they basically all just went to sleep.
At breakfast, Lord Aldenmier rejoined them along with a new addition to their group: a human monk. "I have looked over the practice dungeon," he explained, "and while you were successful and emerged without injury, you seem to have set off every single trap and even loosed the one monster. So, I have decided to add one further member to your party, to better your odds of survival beneath the Keep."
The party's newest member then introduced himself and received introductions in return. (We actually had to start with the OOC introductions; this is the ten-year-old friend of the family and while the boys know him, Firstborn's two friends from school did not.) So, to recap my recap, we now have:
- Firstborn, age twelve: Dragonborn Sorcerer (Draconic Bloodline) named Dragolyd Toruv, with a penchant for setting things on fire. His goal is to restore his honor and re-enter his House.
- Secondborn, age eight: Drow Rogue (aiming for assassin) named Shadow, whose basic approach is to kill first and ask questions later. His goal is to find the man who murdered one of his parents, and kill him; that man is part of one of the other Banner Companies.
- Friend #1, age twelve: Mousefolk Cleric named Aspen, deeply suspicious of the sort of hooligans he's been assigned to work with. His goal is to get back into the primary dungeon, find his mousefolk tribe, and get them out.
- Friend #2, age twelve: Halfling (Lightfoot) Rogue named Barrith, with an eye for treasure of any kind. His goal is to earn enough money and influence to get his brother out of jail and set them up for a better life.
- Friend #3, age ten: human monk called Kaz (his name is apparently a Japanese phrase meaning something like He Who Punches The Wind) who was raised by wolves and later adopted by humans. He too is native to the village outside Roslof Keep, and his goal is simply to earn enough gold to lift his family out of poverty and repay them for taking him in. (I'd forgotten that this player has a thing for characters who were raised by wolves, but we're just going with it. As long as he has some motivation to stick with the party, we're fine.)
The game is still moving slowly, but we're getting better as everybody becomes more familiar with the system. A lot of our pauses are still crosstalk, hypothetical how-does-this-work questions, and looking up rules. This time we ran for two hours with a pizza break in the middle, and it was perfect. I think this is going to be our regular schedule. (It's also rainy and occasionally thunderous outside, so really a perfect day for tabletop roleplaying: we could do that during a power outage with very little difficulty if we had to.)
After the introductions at breakfast, the cleric broached the topic of extra equipment, and Lord Aldenmier allowed as how he had a little set aside from his days as an adventurer. That allowed the group to add some extra weaponry and (critically) three healing potions.
He then took the banner and marched the group from his manor to the Keep itself, and down to the small room that connects to the dungeon. There, he placed the Banner of the Ivory Scimitars into one of the stone plinths along the walls, and the magical membrane that keeps the dungeon from casual explorers shimmered and softened. The group arranged a marching order, and entered.
Having learned their lesson about splitting the party, they stuck together and acted as a unit: the cleric and the monk up front (both are capable melee fighters, and the cleric is the best-armored of the bunch); the sorcerer in the middle (to protect their source of higher-damage spells); and the two rogues in the back. They may want to look at this again later; the cleric and the monk have the highest Wisdom/Perception, but the rogues aren't as bad at finding traps as I thought they were. It's just that last time I had them using Wisdom to check for traps, when I really should have had them using Intelligence/Investigation.
So this time they investigated the rooms carefully, with one person checking things over and another person helping, while the rest covered them. They found their first trap, a door with not-terribly-subtle line connecting it to something behind it. They chose a direction (not the trapped door) and proceeded carefully down the corridor until they reached the first pair of doors, where they stopped and carefully checked for traps. They were about to open one door when the cleric thought she heard something move behind it, so they elected to open the other door instead.
This got them into a seemingly-empty room, where they found a concealed door in the far wall. After checking it for traps, the mousefolk cleric reached carefully up to the latch and opened it.
That was when the ghouls tried to grab them.
In the surprise round, the cleric swung at one of the ghouls (a prepared action) and two of the ghouls reached out to attack. They missed the monk but hit the cleric, damaging him but failing to paralyze him.
The main part of the battle opened with the monk attacking the ghoul in front of him but missing (just bad rolls, really). The ghouls attacked again, this time missing the cleric but knocking out the monk. The dragonborn sorcerer took advantage of the opening to cast flaming hands; since the cleric is teeny and the monk was unconscious, nobody was in the way and he did a fair chunk of damage to all three ghouls. The dark-elf rogue took a shot with his crossbow but missed, the halfling rogue took a shot with his bow and hit, finishing off the ghoul in front of the cleric. The cleric reached over and poured one of the healing potions down the monk's throat, which got him back on his feet just in time to take down the ghoul in front of him. The final ghoul obligingly moved forward, and he finished it off as well. (As expected, the monk is a bit squishier than a fighter or barbarian would have been, but he's mobile and he can dish out the damage at close range.)
So: they won their first battle, collecting six gold pieces for their trouble, and did so without losing anybody and by working together.
And yes, all that -- a bit of setup, four rooms, one trap, one battle, and a bit of corridor -- took us two whole hours (minus pizza break) to get through. But that's fine; that's the pace we're moving at while we get comfortable with the game, and everybody had a good time and felt like they'd accomplished something. Now if I can get everybody to stop trying to make stacks of dice between actions...
Favorite bit of semi-OOC interaction: Firstborn remarked that they had to be the weirdest adventuring party in the Keep. They're not, though they're definitely off in the right direction for that. But that gave me the chance to tell them about The Librarian. The Librarian is a Lich who lives in a small complex in the forest, about eight miles outside of the town. He pursued magical knowledge and power and eventually attained undead immortality so that he could finally finishing reading and writing all the books that he wanted to read and write. With the right letters of introduction, his library is a god-send to anyone doing research. He is the sort of librarian who keeps his library quiet and calm, and in fact he can enforce magical silence through the entire complex. The players were absolutely charmed to know that this place existed, and at some point they're almost certainly going to have to pay it a visit.