To close out my B/X campaign I wanted to run a classic D&D module. I chose Temple of the Frog because it’s one of the oldest D&D modules around (maybe the oldest) and it has science-fiction elements. I thought it’d take the party 2 or 3 sessions to complete the module, but they accomplished their mission in a single session. They could have stayed longer, cleared more of the temple, but the mission was done and they decided to GTFO. All-in-all I felt it was a bit of an anti-climatic end to the campaign.
So, the party is hired to pose as mercenaries to infiltrate the Order of the Frog for the purpose of finding a kidnapped baroness and rescuing her (along with as many of her cohorts as they could find). After several days travel they arrive at the Temple of the Frog and are shown to guest huts while they await an interview with Saint Stephen, head of the order. That night they attend the evening service at the temple where the virtues of Froginess are extolled and a sacrifice is “given to the Frog.” The PCs are assured that the sacrifice is a volunteer, and greatly honored, but the party isn’t so sure, listening to the poor man’s screams as he’s thrown into a pit of man-eating frogs.
Following the service they follow several members of the Order into nearby Frog Town, entering a pub favored by the Order. They gather a bit of intelligence about the temple and the dungeons below, but nothing immediately useful. The party then decides to waylay a group of monks and steal their robes, using the purloined clothing to infiltrate the temple. They also discover one of the monks was wearing a strange frog-inscribed ring, which the magic-user took.
Once inside the temple, they discovered that the ring opened most of the doors. Investigating one room, they ambush a sleeping librarian. Prodded by threats of pain (and personal reasons of his own), the librarian agrees to show the party a secret door to the upper dungeons. They bind and gag the librarian, tucking him away out of sight, before descending into the dungeon.
While in the dungeon they find their robes give them a degree of free movement. They’re able to bypass a number of guards without incident. Exploring, they find another set of stairs leading down to the lower dungeon, passing through a large barracks-style room. As the guards were sleeping, the party was again able to pass through unmolested.
Further investigation of the lower level revealed several cells contained half-mutated frog folk, experimental subjects of the Order. One of froggy mutants croaked “Please, kill me,” a request the cleric of loth was more than happy to oblige. Searching deeper into the dungeon, they uncover a massive spawning pool, apparently where all the man-eating killer frogs lived. Wisely avoiding this area, they soon find a laboratory. Within the lab are four Keepers, members of the ‘scientific’ branch of the Order who work to perfect froggy features in humans. The party finds they can’t bluff their way past the Keepers, who know that other members of the Order are not allowed in the dungeons. A short, vicious fight ensues. While the four Keepers are not particularly powerful, they do employ “laser wands” which blast large holes into things (and people). Naturally, the party scoops up these valuable “magic items.”
Moving on, they soon find the cells containing the object of their mission, protected by a brass golem. The golem does nothing so long as the prisoners remain in the main cell room, but as soon as the party tries to leave with the baroness, the golem attacks, pursuing the party through the dungeon until it grabs hold of the baroness and drags her back to the cells, swiping at interloping adventurers along the way. Between their magic weapons and the laser wands the party manages to finally destroy the construct, but not before a general alarm is raised. Guards rush from the barracks to block the party’s escape. However, they made the critical error of concentrating their force at a choke point…easy pickin’s for the magic-user’s fireball spell.
With the use of silence and invisibility 10′ radius the party is able to sneak through the alerted dungeon, arriving back at the main temple floor. In the main temple area, they discover the exit is blocked by a half-dozen guards and apparently one of the Order’s six ‘saints.’ Throwing caution to the wind, the cleric of loth drops the silence spell and casts slay living on the saint, instantly killing him. However, this has the unfortunate side effect of ending the invisibility spell. Arms raised in triumph, the cleric yells “I AM VICTORIOUS!”…just seconds before being blasted to pieces by 6 laser wands. Covered in cleric-bits, the magic-user is the first to recover from the shock, casting fireball to wipe out the remaining gate guards (and destroying their laser wands in the process). The party gathers up as much of the cleric of loth they can find (for later raising) and then high-tail it out-of-town with the baroness in tow. Mission accomplished.
In hindsight, Temple of the Frog was a poor choice for this game. The module involved a great deal more intrigue and subtlety than had previously been required of the players. Also, it was just a huge, sprawling module with lots of empty rooms (2 large dungeon levels, 6 floors to the temple, plus the outer bailey area and Frog Town, both with lots of buildings). I now wish I’d run them through Tomb of Horrors instead. Tomb of Horrors is relatively short, focused and killing off all the PCs in a classic meat-grinder module would have been more in tune with the type of game I had been running up to that point.
Overall, though, the campaign was a success. The players had fun and they’d probably be open to the idea of playing in another ‘old school’ game sometime in the future. And I had a lot of fun running the game. So, in a very real sense, mission accomplished. 🙂