This is a play report contains some spoilers for the Maidens of Moordoth adventure that comes with the BareBones FRPG by DWD Studios. I will avoid most spoilers directly but if you read this you will figure out the plot of the adventure.
Devojian – Human Leader, upbeat brother of Idra
Idra – Human Cleric, negative Nancy, brother of Davojian
Karak – Dwarf Warrior Thief
Magryn – Halfling Scout
CharGen took longer than I expected as we settled in then got up for bowls of steaming chili. While spooning mouthfuls of yummy chili we got the the characters created and equipped. We had a mix of beginner and longtime gamers at the table. It took a bit for everyone to grasp the chargen process but once that clicked everything went smoothly.
I heard lots of comments about how the rules let you create the character you want and that the rules didn’t hinder but helped create fun characters to play. The two playing humans were wondering about what kind of advantage getting an additional descriptor was. More about that later. Equipping the characters was a breeze. The players were shocked that they could easily equip theier character the way they wanted and still had the necessary adventuring gear. Put another way, how many games do you know of that allow you to get a horse, armor, weapons and all your delving gear you need right from the get-go.
The players quickly got into their roles. The descriptors helped and I think everyone had demonstrated one or more descriptors before I read the first introductory text. Being the brave and do-right souls they were, they headed out on a quest to Maiden’s hill to a) destroy the ghouls terrorizing the countryside and to find out how to put the spirits of the ghostly maidens to rest. Right from the start the Karak and Magryn smelled foul play and were very suspicious of the village elders. As they rode their horses (Devojian & Idra), Mule (Karak), and Pony (Magryn), Idra told the group of the nature of ghouls and the danger such an evil could spread.
To give the players a taste of the rules I ran Encounter 1: An Unfortunate Victim. After a few bad rolls the group got it together and working as a team defeated the band of ghouls and laid to rest the dead traveler the ghouls had been feasting on. Devojian took the dead man’s longsword as the tip of his had been broken off in the fight (critical failure on a downward swing lead to hitting a stone on the trail and snapping the tip off (-1 damage)). The halfing tore it up by slipping of his pony in the confusion and circling around to pepper the ghouls with arrows. The dwarf gave a lot of damage with his two handed sword.
Back on the trail the group came across a frontiersman driving a wagon and in the back of a wagon was a cage with his former wife, now a ghoul, Encounter 4: Ghoul in a Cage. Some tense role-playing saved this situation from going south and the party was able to console the grief stricken man and destroy the ghoul. From what they learned, their suspicions rose as to what was really going on.
Finally the group made it to Maiden’s hill. Here they got their gear ready for dungeon delving and Karak, the dwarf scouted ahead of the party so he could take advantage of his dark vision since it far exceeded what could be seen via torchlight. With blood on the flagstones where bodies had been dragged into the hill and muffled screams coming from inside the mood was very properly set.
I did not use the map and dungeon layout provided in the adventure. I had a new large set of Dungeonstone product that I wanted to use. So I created a new dungeon layout and then reassigned the rooms to the ones I created. It was easy to do make this minor change.
Encounter 2: Crypt was a great reinforcement of the creepiness of this setting and followed nicely on the descriptions of Encounter 1: Entrance.
Encounter 3: common Room. The dwarf made good use of his dark vision and crossbow to take out most of the dire rats in this room before they noticed him and the rest of the team got involved. They quickly mopped up the dire rats and moved on.
Encounter 4: Pottery Room and Encounter 5: Art room were near each other in my dungeon setup. I knew the dwarf was scouting so I made a secret roll to notice the pit trap in this area. It was a failure. Once a player is aware that there might be traps in an area or specifically states they watching for them I simply stop them when they are about to trigger a trap and have them roll to notice it. I find this method greatly speeds up play and prevents the whole “I crawl down the hallway inch by inch checking for traps” silliness.
When the rest of the party with torches heard the pit trap doors slam into the sides of the pit and heard the dwarf yell out “trap!” as he fell, they came running and quickly extracted Karak while watching for opponents. Fortunately for them at this point in the dungeon there were no opponents within hearing distance.
While Karak and Magryn looked for a way to close and lock the pit, the brothers inspected the pottery room and both quickly spotted the secret room and prizes within. One of them began to don the platemail he found. Karak and Magryn got the pit closed and locked and were disappointed at finding the remnants of works of art in the art room.
I skipped Encounter 6: Trophy Room as the adventure was very creepy and my players would have found that room either silly or weird. We were pressed for time so I didn’t use this room.
Encounter 7: Garrison Room scared the players so much they let fear rule over greed so this became merely a scary room to avoid. The party moved on.
For Enctounter 8: Vanity room, I left out the room and put the magic mirror further along in an alcove near the final treasure room.
The group used great group tactics by having the dwarf creep up and shoot one of the ghouls in the room (Encounter 9: Dress Room) then rushing back to the group where they formed ranks and defeated all the ghouls. The dwarf was paralyzed by the touch of one for a short time. Otherwise they were unharmed.
I skipped Encounter 10: Alter Room as we were running late and It didn’t really add much to the adventure as I was running it.
The ritual room portrayed in Encounter 11: Second Chance Room really helped the group figure out that there were two things going in, the ghoul outbreak and the haunting of the maidens. The dwarf sampled each potion found here to determine what they were. And he survived! The cleric helped remove the ritual trappings of the room so hopefully has stopped this ritual from having any future effects. Time will tell.
I should mention at this point that the Leader skill of Devojian was making a HUGE difference and the players were loving it. The halfing was making incredible shots with major penalties by firing arrows over the head of the dwarf and into ghoul faces during close combat. The group did a good job of remembering where torches were and what they could see. The player of Idra was getting disappointed that he couldn’t show off the trappings of his healing power he had developed. Even though Karak the dwarf was a little wounded he was saving the healing he had for bad wounds.
By this time the players were really working well together and while most of their skill checks were just over 50% they found they were succeeding more often than failing and finding the dynamic combat very fun.
With careful scouting the party was able to set up a kill zone with some oil they could quickly light. The final ghouls were coaxed out of the treasure room via crossbow bolt and then met a firey, arrow and sword slashing death at the hands of the steadfast dungeon delvers!
While exploring the treasure room the ghosts made their appearance and the group learned the whole story of their demise and what they needed to do to put them to rest. They burned any bodies the ghouls had been feasting on with extra oil they had brought and quickly left the ancient crypts with treasure in hand.
The party determinedly headed back to town where they found the townsfolk and elders in the town hall having a meeting on what to do about the ghouls should the adventurer’s fail. It was a perfect opportunity to bring out the truth. The players were successful and the shame of the town elders was laid bare. The party took their reward and moved on letting events in the town settle down on it’s own.
This was a fun adventure. Players stayed way past our quitting time. There were lots of comments about how fun it was. Even one player who had only played another system and compared both at the beginning found BareBones Fantasy so fun she asked me if my next campaign was going to use these rules. Hah, now that is an endorsement. Players liked the way they could develop their characters and the players of the human characters now understood that the extra descriptor got them an extra development point to add to their character.
I ran this as a pickup game when one of our regularly scheduled games was cancelled. We’ll see if they want another taste of it. I hope so as it was a joy to run and the characters were very fun and the players had fun. What more can I say?
If you haven’t tried BareBones Fantasy RPG, go get it and run this adventure. You and your players will have a good time.