The Secret Redoubt Of Hatred
(Yes, I was using the random dungeon name generator again).
Heading north-east the party encountered a labyrinth of mostly deserted corridors. Their first encounter was a group of goblins, and the two halflings were somewhat perturbed when their hired dwarf failed to fill a single one of them. Cooinda took up the slack, and even the halflings accounted for a couple with their slings. Moving to the north-west they found some rooms, which were mostly unoccupied, but some of which were trapped. Minimal rewards lay beyond the traps though. Dickson surprised everyone when they encountered a group of hobgoblins, killing three of them with his small, weighted stick. They worked down to the south-west, and had a few more encounters, but nothing of note until they fought off some sentient slime and recovered a haul of gold pieces. They then found a secret door, which offered them a shortcut route back to the entrance, and some of the unexplored parts of the dungeon. After exploring the south-east sector of the dungeon, they headed back along the secret passage. Unfortunately they weren't the only ones who knew about it - a massive ogre surprised them, and in the ensuing fight, both Gunlom and Cooinda were smashed to a bloody pulp by the monster's club. The two halflings fled, and made it back to the outside world with a handful of gold pieces and a gem.
So not a massively successful start. They'd had a few encounters, but the treasure had been sparse, and what few items of real value they'd found were being carried by the dwarf and elf whose bodies they'd left behind in the dungeon.
Still, undeterred they sought out new bodyguards. A barbarian named Ubirr answered their advertisement, as well as another Elf, Whistler. This time they headed of to:
The Crooked Library Of The Simmering Pools
This was a disaster. Ubirr and Whistler spent the first few rooms dodging (or not dodging) traps. A crypt offered some gold once its skeletal guardians were defeated. Their biggest success came when they encountered some kobolds. Ubirr flexed his muscles at them, and they fled, dropping a valuable bracelet as they did so. Another trap was followed by the lair of a cockatrice. They'd taken the Elf along because he knew a spell which could turn anyone petrified by a cockatrice back to flesh. Needless to say that Whistler was the first to get turned to stone, followed by Dickson. Gowler and Ubirr managed to defeat the monster, but they had no way of blessing their petrified comrades. They simply left Whistler's petrified body behind, and carried Gowler out of the dungeon. Their trip out was fraught with danger - a minotaur came sniffing around looking for halfling to eat, and another ogre accosted them at the entrance to the caves. Ubirr attacked it in a wild fury, and after taking a few hits the ogre decided that discretion was the better part of valour and fled.
Again, their haul of treasure wasn't great, and they had to spend some of it getting a local cleric to bless Dickson and return him to 'life'. But Ubirr had survived, and gained some experience, and the halflings felt that maybe their fortunes were looking up.
Not wanting to get caught out by the petrification issue again, they asked Litchfield, the Cleric, who had healed Dickson if he'd like to join their party. He decided that he would. After a suitable period of rest and recovery they set off to explore:
The Scarred Sanctum Of The Dispossessed
This was the adventure the halflings had hoped for. There were monsters to fight, it's true, but each fight yielded gold, scrolls and even some magical weapons. For the first time the party found the final boss of the dungeon - a medusa. And guess what? That's right. Dickson and Gowler were both turned to stone. With a sigh Ubirr and Litchfield dispatched the monster, and the halflings were restored by Litchfield's blessings. They explored a few more rooms, completing the dungeon, and headed home with actual riches and experience to show for their efforts. The high point of the adventure was when they were surprised by a Chaos Lord in a corridor. Instinctively Dickson and Gowler launched slingstones at the dark shape before them, both scoring hits and causing the evil villain to flee in shock and surprise.
Well, I say experience. In fact their levelling up rolls had been abysmal. In an attempt to get more experience the first group to survive a dungeon intact went back underground, taking on:
The Unholy Armoury Of Damnation
(I played this one at about midnight in the departure lounge of Darwin airport. This is a great game for playing at midnight in the departure lounges of city airports.)
A ton of traps was what the party found. Of course. They met another medusa as well. This time they decided to parley, and the monster seemed happy to let them pass after some gold exchanged hands. Litchfield was pleased that his blessings could be reserved for something else. Some rats (both dead and alive) were dealt with easily, before the party encountered a group of Death Cultists. This was a hard fight, with no-one escaping uninjured, but the party prevailed, and stumbled into the lair of the dungeon's main monster - a dragon. If you've read the first set of adventures I'd played you'll know that battles with dragons have not always ended well, but in this case Ubirr and Litchfield pretty much killed it before it even knew they were there (the Barbarian's Rage ability is a real winner, despite only being allowed once per game). Its hord was worth the fight, and the party left the small dungeon richer and more confident.
And so onto:
The Wretched Cathedral Of Pestilence
The first half of this dungeon seemed to be a lair of goblins, led by a Chaos Lord. The Lord's chamber was a secret one, and the party attacked him by surprise. But it didn't give them the edge they hoped it would, and in the ensuing fight they nearly lost Gowler. The halfling survived only by using a teleportation ring to escape. In the other half of the dungeon they found an incursion by Death Cultists, whose priest was the final boss. They killed him relatively easily, collecting a magnificent haul of treasure and useful scrolls. They then decided to explore just one. more. room. And encountered the bane of all adventurers - gremlins. In a moment, most of their precious magic items ans scrolls were gone. The halflings only retained their magic daggers by virtue of the Gremlins being distracted by the food they were carrying as well (a house-rule for the 'tasty snacks').
So at this stage, Ubirr and Litchfield are at Level 3, whilst the halflings are at Level 2. Given the number of adventures they've shared, you can see how bad their levelling up rolls have been*. The halflings have actually proved useful, with their luck finding useful short-cuts or valuable treasures when searching rooms, and sometimes creating useful combat openings with an initial volley of slingshots. They probably have one more basic dungeon left in them before the higher-level tables beckon.
The Invisible Gremlins seem a bit powerful, though. The party lost nine items to them, which is a lot of kit even for one as well-equipped as this one. Encountered early on in a dungeon they could be a real show-stopper. I might need to have a think about changing them a little.
*And also that I've been playing the levelling up from Minion encounters incorrectly; you are supposed to carry the tally of encounters across from adventure to adventure. By my reckoning they've missed two rolls from Minions, so I may do them now - that could see both halflings go to Level 3 as well.