Or "The House That Wasn't There"
I've dug another dungeon, having learned a few lessons in design from Castle Redvald. This one has maps that are easier to navigate (and re-draw on the spot to show on camera), tighter levels with more things going on in each room (no truly empty room) and a strong theme to tie areas to the lore, hopefuly giving them a stronger identity.
Rules-wise, I'm using my latest hack-thing, Into the Borderlands.
I also decided to let it go and accept that there is a ton of great shit out there that I can steal and jam in there with little to no modification, so as a disclaimer: this is by no means "all me" or something that I plan to get money from, it's purely for fun.
There is a House on the hill. It wasn't there last week. Since its appearance, a thick fog has rolled over the region, and the people of Wickerbury are going stark raving mad. Brother Cassius, the local priest, is very concerned, and has offered you an impressive sum in exchange for dealing with the problem.
Enter the Lawful Gang:
• Joab the Scavenger (Lawful Rogue, or as he likes to call it, "Security Expert")
• Bald Frances (Lawful Man-at-Arms, who fights for a good cause or the right price, in that order)
• Anaximenes (Lawful Briarborn - elf - an elementalist and follower of the Blind One)
• Jim (Lawful Briarborn, an evil-hunting no nonsense spiritualist)
• and Titus, the only neutral in the lawful gang, and a dirty thief even!
For 500 silver per head and a chance to do a truly heroic and good deed, this band of 1st level adventurers assembled to help Brother Cassius and the inhabitants of Wickerbury by getting rid of whatever is causing the fog.
• Upon reaching the house, which was described as a large manor by witnesses, but actually looked more like a small 2F cottage in obvious disrepair, the party checked a few entrances:
-Front Door: leads into a pit of electrically charged copper spikes, too dangerous.
-Balcony Door: spiderweb carvings on a door with a copper handle, too suspicious.
-Upstairs Windows: leads into a simple corridor with a red rug, good enough.
• Titus broke one of the windows and went in with Joab while the others were on lookout. When a strange humming noise and bright yellow light appeared around the corner, the thieves hid in a nearby room and Bald Frances glimpsed at the creatures while peeking through the broken window from up on the roof: a trio of humanoid shapes made of lightning.
• In the nearby room, the thieves saw metal plaques on the walls with names and dates carved in them. One of the names stood out: Anarios, the Blue Knight, a legendary hero of the later wars to reclaim the wilderness lost to chaos beyond the Borderlands, who disappeared ten years ago. Over the plaques, someone had painted the words: FORGIVENESS IN SERVICE in elven.
• The room facing that one contained three coffins, each stuffed with a headless, fresh corpse of a villager.
• Going west (away from where they last saw the lightning beings), the party found an arsenal room with racks of broken crossbows and a rusted trunk, occupied by a bunch of floating misshapen corpse-things that seemed harmless after further investigation and curious stabbing. Once the creatures left, Anaximenes decided to loose a bolt into the rusted trunk, blowing it up by breaking whatever explosives were inside. Luckily, the Lawful Gang's signature move is to take cover whenever they throw or shoot something in a room, as established a bit earlier...
• Exploring north-west, the party came at a crossroads with the west passage barred by a strange wall of humming light. As they bickered and argued about what to do, a huge spider-dragon beast came rushing from the north passage, stabbing walls, floor and ceiling with its scimitar-shaped legs.
Which, being six PCs using mostly ItO rules, they dealt with pretty easily, in retrospect.
•Going south at the crossroads, they found a door that looked exactly like the entrance one, and it did lead to the first room they saw after opening the front door, complete with the rock they threw inside when checking out the room. Clearly this house operates under strange rules.
• After that I believe the party went north, after pushing the Spider-Dragon corpse into the humming field, which turned the massive and cumbersome body into dust in an instant. Up north they found three rooms:
-One had a patchy copper wall and a black ceramic lever, which they pulled down.
-The next one had another lever, this one white, which they also pulled down after some shenanigans.
-The last one contained a massive copper sphere, which felt warm, welcoming and true to Joab the Scavenger after he stepped inside. After some convincing he finally let go of the PERFECT SPHERE and accepted to get out and join the others for more adventuring.
• Coming back to the crossroad, the party noticed that the walls of light were now turned off, and explored further south-west, where they found a room containing a skeleton holding an ancient sword, which went to Anaximenes, and a window to the outside. Breaking it revealed that the room was somehow the one in the north-east corner of the house, and that the outside backdoor and window led here.
• South of that room, cutting down some cobwebs led to a small altar to an unknown God - the statue and scriptures had been removed, although a small garden gnome was in a corner, which Titus broke out of loathing. The party discussed the possibility of the place having been visited by the fey (good elves don't consider themselves a part of the fey, being children of the gods, while fey are chaotic beings born of the underground).
• North-west of that area, the party stumbled upon an hyper-realistic painting of stairs going up, which Titus bumped into at full speed, shattering his ego in such a humiliating situation. He will forever be scarred by stairs and potential illusions, until he can achieve REVENGE.
• Further up north, the party saw a room full of carvings on the walls representing people lined up to enter a sphere, emerging as angelic beings. There was also a rippling mirror on the south wall.
• Before wrapping it up, Joab really wanted to go back to the sphere and see what would happen if the group closed it while he was inside. They did, despite many protests from most of the party, and Joab was electrocuted to death as he had visions of the Ungod of Spiders welcoming him to his-her realm of trickery and mad wisdom. A lightning being emerged from the sphere, which Anaximenes destroyed with magic before the new form of Joab could attempt to communicate with them.
QUICK POST-SESSION NOTES
• Gonna be running this another time today with my sisters and girlfriend, another session report will probably follow shortly after.
• Into the Borderlands is a success so far. I like the implementations of classes and D&D mechanics like alignment, titles, XP for silver and so on, and I get to keep my favorite mechanics from ItO which make combat faster and perhaps more forgiving in the sense that the tactical situation is more transparent for everyone involved.