Isle of Dread, Pt. 5

Well, the party didn’t get too much done this session.  We spent a lot of time sitting around BSing.  I thought the group was going to continue exploring the island, but they didn’t seem to have too much enthusiasm for hex crawling.  Here’s what happened…

The halfling wanted to head back to the mainland to cash in, trade up some magic items and then return to finish clearing the island.  Most everyone else just wanted to go somewhere else.  But everyone wanted to get a bit more XP, so they decided to stick around the island and see what turned up.  Asking the villagers if there were any big monster lairs on the island the word dragon comes up.  “Dragons, you say?” says one villager.  Why yes, there’s a dragon’s lair on the far northern part of the island.  So everyone gets excited about killing a dragon and taking its stuff (it is Dungeons & Dragons afterall, right?).

The elf pays the villagers to load up their ship’s hold with mangos, bananas and other various tropical vegetation while they hunt down the dragon.  Then, borrowing some war canoes, they head around to the northern end of the island.  They find the dragon’s lair after a few days, but by now second thoughts have settled in.  Half the party wants to take on the dragon, the other half wants to GTFO.  Unfortunately they’re having this discussion right outside the dragon’s lair.  From inside they hear a booming voice “WHO’S THAT OUTSIDE?”  The party beats feet, and they don’t stop running for hours.

The next morning they come up with a brilliant plan to scout out the dragon’s cave.  The thief will sneak in and look around.  If he gets into trouble, he’ll drink a potion of gaseous form to escape.  “That potion’s back on the ship,” says someone.  Oops.  Okay, a few days later the party is back, having retrieved the potion of gaseous form.  The thief sneaks into the lair and finds the dragon asleep (or so it appears, anyways).  Getting greedy, the thief tries to sneak up to the dragon’s treasure hoard and steal a few coins, but rolls a ’00’ on his Move Silently check, faceplanting right in the middle of the dragon’s treasure pile.  Fortunately, he wins initiative and quickly quaffs the potion, taking just enough time to grab a few coins from the treasure pile (note:  I hadn’t read the description of the potion beforehand and ruled that all his stuff turned gaseous as well; really, he should have turned gaseous while all his stuff dropped off him; I just ruled that they had an uber-rare potion of super-duper gaseous form, which they’ll never find again 😉 ).

Hearing the ruckus, the halfling charges into the lair, coming to the thief’s rescue.  He runs smack dab right into the dragon, who’s following the slowly drifting thief-cloud.  The halfling gets a swing in and misses, and then takes some chlorine gas breath in the face, making his save but still almost dying.  The halfling decides that hiding is the better part of valor, at least when fighting dragons.  However, the dragon is too quick, pinning him under a massive claw.  I could have been a dick and just killed the halfling (which most dragons probably would have done), but instead a deal was struck:  the halfling ‘donates’ his magic shield and plate mail to the dragon’s hoard and the dragon allows the halfling to continue breathing.  Oh, and the halfling has to instruct the thief to return the stolen coins…all 5 of them.  The halfling offers to ‘donate’ 250 GP of his own in lieu of the stolen coins, which the dragon accepts.

So, that was the end of dragon hunting.  They spent a little time killing a few gargoyles and then decide to head back to civilization.  They’ve had enough of hex crawling, at least for now.

They spend an uneventful week sailing back to Spectacularianismopoliswhateveritscalled.  They pay the sailors and captain without even trying to cheat them (which surprised me to no end) and then hit up the city’s version of Craig’s List to trade the magic items they don’t need for more useful stuff, like magic bows for the thief and elf and a new suit of magic plate mail for the halfling.

The next day the harbor master marches up to the ship with a contingent of soldiers.  It seems there have been rumors floating around the dock area’s better drinking establishments that the PC’s ship is laden with treasure, and the harbor master has come to inspect the ship and collect the city’s share of taxes.  Fortunately, the party had the foresight to bury their treasure hoard beneath a big pile of mangos and bananas.  The harbor master is no fool, of course, and immediately starts digging through the fruity pile in search of taxable ‘imports,’ with the help of a couple of soldiers.  While the soldiers are distracted, the magic-user charms the harbor master, who becomes their new BFF.  They also give him a staggeringly valuable gem, on the theory that when he recovers from the charm, he’ll still be guilty of taking a bribe and so might be more inclined to remain silent on the matter (we’ll see about that 🙂 ).  They also give everyone a bunch of mangos to take home.

Now officially tax evaders, the party spends a considerable amount of time discussing the best way to smuggle their loot through the city to deposit it in the bank.  Many schemes are discussed, but eventually they settle on a plan to carry the loot to the bank in backpacks.  They estimate it will take about 7 trips, all told, with the elf remaining behind the watch the ship.  The first couple of trips go without a hitch, but on the third trip they are waylaid by a band of thieves.  The thieves are quickly slept by the magic-user, though one is charmed.  The charmed thief explains that the city’s Thieves Guild had heard about the treasure ship and been watching the party for a few hours now.  The party had acted more quickly than anticipated, however, and so they didn’t have time to prepare a proper ambush.  The PC’s new buddy also cheerfully helps them move the rest of the treasure, and warns the party which routes through the city to avoid.

While the party was being ambushed, another band of thieves row up to the ship and began boarding her.  Thinking quickly, the elf drops a gargoyle’s head into their boat, yelling “This is a dragon’s egg.  Here comes its mother!”  He then creates an illusion of a dragon swooping down out of the sky.  The thieves dive off the boat and swim for their lives.  Unfortunately, the elf also creates a bit of a kerfuffle on the docks, what with the screaming and the panicking and the alarms and the city’s heroes taking to the air to fight the dragon and all that.  The ‘dragon’ disappears shortly thereafter.

And that’s where we left things.  They are officially done with Isle of Dread and it’s uncertain if they’ll want to continue with the D&D campaign or move on to another system.  There’s been a bit of grumbling from some of the players who prefer crunchier systems, and the novelty of B/X D&D may have worn for them off by now.  However, should they want to continue I’ll run them through White Plume Mountain next.  It’s for levels 5-10, so they might be a little weak, but I can tweak the module a bit to compensate.  Caves of Chaos was a traditional dungeon crawl, Isle of Dread gave them a taste of hex crawling and with White Plume Mountain the group will have the chance to run through a ‘fun house’ type dungeon.  We’ll see where things go from here.  Cheers.

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5 Responses to “Isle of Dread, Pt. 5”

  1. ronaldsf Says:

    Sounds like a fun session! I had to chuckle when the party got cold feet right OUTSIDE of the dragon’s lair. That is such a typical PnP situation. My middle-school students get in that argument a lot, but luckily (for me) there is one over-eager sixth grader who just ran up and tried to open the doors of the main mausoleum of Rappan Athuk…

    Perhaps B/X D&D lost its novelty once the players survived the low levels? One thing early D&D has going for it is some classic modules… I’d suspect that’s what’s left to keep them coming back for more.

    • edowar Says:

      Yeah, I got a laugh out of that, too. I couldn’t believe they were having that discussion right outside the lair. Still, it’s a good thing they didn’t try to tackle the dragon. It would have been a TPK. It’s amazing how a 9 HD dragon can be so much more powerfual than a 13 HD allosaurus.

      If we continue, I’m hoping they’ll find the classic modules enjoyable. However, at some point I’d like to try some other games as well, like Gamma World, maybe PFBB or some of the retro-clones.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Someone brought up on my blog the microlite20 rule set, which I assume you have seen already? I just saw it the other day and was impressed. It seems to be very compatible with Pathfinder and after getting used to a few rules (that are simply streamlining parts of PF) it seems like a simpler rules-light experience based on d20. (Specifically the “Microlite20 Purest Essence” version).

      • ronaldsf Says:

        Sorry, that was my post above FYI

      • edowar Says:

        Oh, thank you for the reminder, I’d almost forgotten about Microlite20. I first heard about M20 a few years ago and have even written a few games based on it.

        M20 is a minimalist version of D&D 3.0/3.5, so it should be fairly compatible with Pathfinder. Perhaps a tweaked version of M20, using PF as a basis, would be to the group’s liking.

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