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Again the Boys Delve into the Dungeon

Calfgrit11 asked a few weeks ago if I’d run another session of Dungeons & Dragons for him and his friends. So I sent out emails to all the boys and dads from the previous game session, and to a couple of boys who hadn’t played last time. This past Saturday was the adventure day.

There were six boys again, (including Calfgrit7 this time), but only one other dad. Two of the boys had never played before, so I explained how the game works as I passed out their character sheets. All the boys had the same human fighters from last time, but I bumped them all up to level 2, (even the ones who hadn’t played before). The dad who was playing again, had played the 3rd-level cleric last time, so I bumped him up to level 4 for this game.

I used the same classic adventure module and premise as last time, for a continuation of the previous quest:
The cleric was wanting to explore the dungeon to find a lost magic stone, and he needed the fighters as bodyguards. The dungeon was an old, abandoned fortress built into and under a hill in the wilderness. The original owners were long gone, and what might be left in the place was unknown. Monsters, treasure, magic, traps? All to be expected.

The group entered the dungeon through a 10′ high and wide tunnel carved into the hillside. They opened the first door, lit a torch for light, and marched in.

Boys Playing D&D

Down that entrance hall, (moving north, up on the map below), they came to a pair of alcoves on either side of the hall. They took time for a couple of the fighter-boys to search them, but they found nothing. One boy came up with the idea to use a hammer to tap on the walls to see if they sounded different. Calfgrit7 was excited to find a hammer listed in the equipment section on his character sheet, so he did the honor of tapping. But the walls all sounded like solid stone. So they marched further down the corridor until they came to another pair of alcoves on either side.

Dungeon Explored 2

Tapping with a hammer on the walls in this second set of alcoves revealed the wall to be thinner than solid rock. So one of the boys began searching the wall while the others stood guard. They didn’t remember it, (from a year ago), but this was the same secret door they discovered and went through the last time they invaded this dungeon.

A couple of the fighter-boys moved forward, further north, stretching the group out over about 60 feet of the corridor. And the whole group was making such a racket with talking and shouting that they attracted the attention of some nearby goblins and hobgoblins. These viscous creatures came out of the dark to the north and immediately engaged the separated fighters. During the turns of fighting, most of the fighters had moved north to enter the fight at the front. One of the fighters, though, had continued his searching of the alcove, and much to his surprise, the secret door opened. Beyond were several goblins prepared to rush through.

Yes, the goblins were better prepared for these invaders this time. The adventurers suddenly found themselves being attacked from front and back, and the back was just a lone fighter. It didn’t look good for that rear guard.

The fighters up front were doing well holding off the first goblin attackers, and the rear fighter was managing to survive despite being badly outnumbered. Some goblins were getting around the rear fighter, and closing in on the cleric. Then some of the front fighters broke away and charged the rear enemy force. All in all, it was a grand battle, with a total of about a dozen goblins and three hobgoblins, all slain. No fighter was killed, though a couple were badly injured. The rear fighter managed to slay three goblins before he fell unconscious, mortally wounded. But his allies made a path through the enemies between the party cleric and their friend, so the cleric was able to heal him just in time. The rear fighter recovered after a few minutes of magical administrations.

After gathering themselves from the massive fight, the party moved north to the crossroads and the couple of doors. One of the hobgoblins had tried to escape the battle by going through the left door, but one of the fighters had stopped him with a spear throw.

At this point, the group began debating what to do and where to go. Some wanted to go through the left door, some wanted to go down the right hall. After a while, they decided to split the group. Most went through the door, but two went off by themselves down the right hall.

The group going through the door found that room was a kitchen of sorts. They looked around in it a bit, until a couple of small gargoyle-like creatures came to the door and snarled at them. The fighters charged up and attacked, and drove the creatures away. The fighters followed the creatures around the corner and to the back door of the kitchen, where they found a total of four of the creatures. The battle was short and relatively easy. So the main group moved further north into the dungeon.

The two fighters who separated from the main group found a crossroads of corridors, and had to choose a direction . . .

To be continued.


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A Small Game of D&D

Calfgrit10 asked me a couple times this weekend if I we could play some Dungeons & Dragons. Since both boys were pretty good all weekend, I finally agreed Sunday evening.

CG10 wanted to take a whole team on the adventure: 5 characters run by himself, plus a 6th run by CG7. He went through my miniatures collection and pulled out his team, and his little brother picked out a warrior, also. But after putting some thought into it, I determined that I really just didn’t have enough time to pull together and run an adventure for a whole bunch of characters. And I didn’t think it would be a good idea to let one novice 10-year-old try to run multiple characters. So I limited them to one character each, but I created their fighters at 3rd level, (so they could survive some monster encounters as just two).

CG7 told me he wanted to adventure in a volcano, with lava, and fight a dragon. So, I quickly threw together a very small dungeon set in a volcano with lava and a dragon:

A dragon had stolen the king’s crown, and taken it back to its volcano lair. The king hired CG10 and CG7 to go after the dragon and retrieve the crown. The king would reward them if they could accomplish the quest.

I wrote some monster stats on note cards for reference, but I was going to create the dungeon completely on the fly, based on how well they were doing and how much time we had left before bed time. Unfortunately, I had not adjusted the clock in my office/game room for the fall back to Standard Time, so I ended up shortening the game session by an hour. This meant we only played through three encounters for the adventure.

The adventurer pair rode their horses to the volcano, and found the cave entrance to the dungeon guarded by a pair of hobgoblins. CG10 played daring and reckless, going right up to the guards and attacking them. CG7 played cautious and sneaky, choosing to approach from behind after CG10’s fighter got into the fight. The first fight ended quickly, but the noise attracted the attention of other hobgoblins inside the cave. These five more hobgoblins rushed out to find out what was going on, and both boys’ fighters jumped to attack them.

In the fight, CG10’s character was seriously wounded, (from multiple hits), and CG7’s character was only lightly wounded, (from one hit). Some of the hobgoblins retreated and escaped from the attack. Both adventurers decided to pull back from the cave and go make camp. They needed to bandage up and rest to recover their hit points before any more monster encounters.

After a night’s rest, for which they fully healed, the boys went back to the cave entrance. There were no guards outside this time. So they lit a torch and went into the volcano dungeon. They found another guard post, with two hobgoblins, (who had retreated from the previous day’s fight). The fight went easy. CG10 slew the two hobgoblins while CG7 hung back being safe.

Then they moved deeper into the dungeon, CG10 leading the way. Down the tunnel they came to a large cavern with a lava stream down the middle, and a lava pool off to the side. CG10 saw a treasure chest in the far corner of the room, past the lava stream, and he immediately moved forward toward it. CG7 still hung back, just outside the room — he secretly told me that his intention was to run in and take the treasure if CG10 got into a fight with a monster.

As CG10 got to the middle of the room, a winged, snake-like dragon emerged from the pool of lava behind him. The dragon breathed fire, damaging CG10. And then the fight was on. But CG7 continued to stay out of the room, safe from the dragon.

CG10 put up a good fight. He considered retreat when he was down to 4 hit points, (probably one hit away from being killed). But when his turn came around again, he threw the thought of retreat out of his mind and continued attacking the dragon, all by himself. He severely wounded the dragon, and forced it to retreat back down into the lava pool. Then CG7 rushed into the cavern and jumped over the lava stream to reach the treasure chest before his brother.

In the chest was a large pile of gold and silver coins, with the king’s jeweled crown on top. CG7 grabbed the crown as CG10 caught up. CG10 scooped up some coins as CG7 jumped back over the lava stream to get back out of the cavern with the quest goal.

But the dragon came back up out of the lava pool, saying they will not leave with the crown. The dragon breathed fire on CG7, damaging him, and CG7 halted his dash out because he didn’t want to get close to the dragon. CG10 then held the treasure he had scooped out of the chest over the lava stream. He threatened to drop the coins into the lava unless the dragon let them leave.

The dragon, having only 2 hit points left, and not wanting to loose all his treasure, decided it could let them go away with just the crown. So it told CG10 to put the coins back into the chest and leave. CG10 honored the bargain, put the coins back into the chest, and then jumped back over the lava stream to follow CG7 out the tunnel.

The adventurers left the dungeon, got their horses, and rode back to their king. The king was so happy to get his crown back that he rewarded them 2,000 gold pieces. He was so proud of their bravery in taking the quest that he knighted them and held a feast in their honor. And there was great rejoicing.

Both boys told me they really had fun, and they both wanted to hold onto their character sheets and keep them in their rooms. It all went pretty well, especially considering how quickly I threw it all together in about 20 minutes.

The game table:
D&D Game Table

Negotiating with the dragon:
D&D Negotiation with a Dragon

The dragon’s stats:
Dragon Stat Card
CG10’s character sheet:
CG10's D&D Character Sheet

CG7’s character sheet:
CG7's D&D Character Sheet
Notice that CG7 drew the crown on his sheet, completely on his own idea.


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Boys Delve into the Dungeon, part 2

Continued from part 1.

Having come out of the evil worship area, the party of explorers chose another corridor to follow out of the throne room. They made their way down a winding hallway, finally coming to a door at the end. The lead fighter knocked on the door, and then opened it, to find a woman warrior holding two swords standing in a dark room. The woman had apparently been through some trouble, as her clothing and gear were battle worn. The room itself was once an officer’s quarters, but the beds and furniture were old and battered. The party was a bit taken aback by this woman, standing alone in the dark, and they began questioning her, and she questioned them right back. Her story was that “we” had been betrayed and abandoned by “our” comrade, and they had to hide in this room from the goblins of the dungeon. The party wizard held up the big ruby they had found in the ash/fire snake pit, and got the woman’s interest. After a few more minutes of back and forth parley, the party realized she kept using a plural pronoun.

“Who is ‘we’?” the party inquired. At that question, two armed halflings came from around a corner and from behind a bed. Further talk revealed that these three had been exploring this dungeon with an elf comrade, but the elf had turned on them. The woman and halflings were wounded, so the party cleric aided them with some magical healing. The party offered to split treasure with the woman and halflings if they joined them, and the three agreed, saying they wanted to be eventually lead outside to safety.

So the party plus three then left that room and backtracked to the throne room. From the throne room, the party took another unexplored hallway. Making their way down this even longer and more winding passage, they went through a couple more doors, and finally came to another door at the very end of the hallway. This long uneventful trek had made everyone restless and rowdy again. And even more careless. The lead fighter flung the door open without caution.

A large red dragon stood immediately on the other side of that door, and it belched forth a spray of fire on the two lead fighters standing in the corridor. One fighter was only moderately singed, but the other was severely burned. The badly injured fighter hastily backpedaled from the doorway. While the cleric applied magical aid to the retreating fighter as all the other fighters charged forward to engage the dragon. The party overwhelmed the dragon in a hail of spear and sword thrusts. Only one more fighter was lightly injured before the dragon was defeated. Everyone gave a great cheer for their victory.

But once the dragon was out of the way, the party saw goblins in the chamber beyond, guarding a wizard preparing to cast magic spells.

The fighters charged into the room. The first two threw their spears over and between the goblin bodyguards, and the wizard was skewered without ever uttering a single syllable of any magic word. Then the party cut down the goblins without much trouble.

The room the dragon and wizard and goblins were in seemed to be just an empty chamber. No other doors, no furniture, no nothing but the now-dead inhabitants. The party said that just can’t be, so they went about searching the walls for secret doors. One fighter searched the wizard and found some coins and gems, and a couple of small bottles of liquid: one milky white, one clear like water. They recognized that they were probably magical potions, but what their magic might be, they didn’t know.

Dungeon ExploredThose searching the room found and opened a secret door in the back wall. Beyond was another corridor, going just forty feet and ending. As they discussed searching this whole corridor, the fighter left guarding their backs, at the doorway where they had fought the dragon, called out that more trouble had found them.

Five hobgoblins were approaching from down the hallway, and the rear guard fighter charged into them. The rest of the party joined in a moment later. In a frenzy of stabbing spears and slashing swords, the hobgoblins were slain one by one. But the last standing enemy managed to swing his axe down hard on one of the fighters, mortally wounding him. The fighter fell to the floor moaning and bleeding. A couple of the other fighters stepped up and finished off that last hobgoblin, avenging their comrade, while the others in the party tried to help their fallen friend.

The wounded fighter would die momentarily if they didn’t do something immediately, and unfortunately, the cleric was all out of healing for the day. The fighter who had searched the dead enemy wizard pulled out the two potions he had found. Might one of them help? Maybe. But which one? They quickly decided to try the milky white potion, and poured it into the dying fighter’s mouth. It worked; it was a healing potion. The dying fighter’s bleeding stopped and the wound closed. The party rejoiced. They helped their recovering friend up, then they moved back through the room and into the secret passage.

Their search at the end of the secret passage found another secret door. They opened it and found a treasure room. Prominent in the room was a large, open chest full of gold and silver coins and jewels. To either side of the chest was a pile of gold and silver coins. Four of the fighters rushed toward the treasure only to learn that a magic sleeping spell protected it. Two of the fighters fell to the floor, asleep, but the two others managed to keep awake enough to stagger back away.

When it was confirmed that the fallen fighters were just sleeping, the rest of the party put their heads together to figure out what to do. To test the magical effect, a couple more fighters marched to the treasure. They both felt the affects of the sleep spell. One more fell asleep, and the other stumbled back away. So they realized that the effect was not a one-shot spell, but an ongoing enchantment.

The party made lassos of some lengths of rope, and pulled their sleeping companions out of the room, where they awakened easily enough. They then looped the treasure chest with the lassos and tried pulling the loot out. One fighter couldn’t even move the chest. Two could only barely make it shift. So all six fighters put their strength into pulling two ropes looped around the chest, and they managed to drag it all the way out of the room.

Trying to lasso the two piles of loose coins remaining in the room revealed that those piles were just illusions, not real. But the treasure in the heavy chest was real enough, and the party gathered it all up in their backpacks and sacks. Having reached the end of this area of the dungeon, the party, with a full load of treasure, decided it would be a good time to retreat out of the dungeon and retire in camp. The group made quick and quiet time back out the way they had come in.

And so ended the adventure. Tallying up the experience points for the monsters defeated and treasure found, the fighters all advance to 2nd level.


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Boys Delve into the Dungeon

Game TableSaturday, I introduced half a dozen boys, (five 10-year-olds, one 7-year-old), and a couple of dads to the adventure of Dungeons & Dragons. (The dads had played D&D 20+ years ago, but none of the boys had any experience with the game.) I was the Dungeon Master, and afterwards, I was completely exhausted, physically and mentally — in a good way. Everyone, boys and men, said they had a good time and that the game day was a great idea. The excited talk and big grins on every face after the game showed the sincerity of the thanks. Every boy came to me and asked if we would continue the game another weekend — a couple asking for next weekend — and both dads said they’d be happy to participate again if I did it.

Basic D&DWe used the Basic D&D rules (1981, Moldvay edition), and the Players explored the dungeon of the module In Search of the Unknown. Here’s how everything went down:

Each of the six boys had a 1st-level fighter, one dad had a 3rd-level magic-user (wizard), and the other dad had a 3rd-level cleric. The premise of the adventure was that the wizard and cleric were wanting to explore the dungeon to find a lost magic stone, and they needed the fighters as bodyguards. The dungeon was an old, abandoned fortress built into and under a hill in the wilderness. The original owners were long gone, and what might be left in the place was unknown. Monsters, treasure, magic, traps? All to be expected.

The party arrived at the location with a caravan of wagons, (for supplies and fighter replacements if necessary), but the wagons, drovers, and extra guards were left out at a camp while the core team of adventurers went inside the dungeon. The core team bravely entered the old underground fortress via a ten-feet wide and high corridor carved into the stone hill.

Sixty feet into the hillside, they came to the entrance door of strong wood with metal bindings. The group had their marching order: a double column with four of the fighters up front, followed by the wizard and cleric pair, and the last two fighters as rear guard. The lead fighters opened the door to find the corridor continuing deeper into the hill.

The party went forward down the hall, in a cacophony of excitement, sending echoes of their movement and talking and laughter far ahead of them. Immediately after the front door, they passed a pair of alcoves to either side of the hallway. They moved on. When they found another set of alcoves about fifty feet further in, they decided to search them in detail. A couple of the fighters searched each alcove while the other couple stood guard. One pair of searchers found a secret door in the back of the right-side alcove. But they hadn’t figured out how to open the door yet when they received their first combat challenge.

The party’s loud talking and laughing had attracted the attention of a pair of patrolling hobgoblins, who charged right at the guarding pair of fighters. The struggle was quick and painless for the party, as the hobgoblins fell easily to spear thrusts and throws.

Shortly after that, the alcove searchers discovered how to open the secret door, and they found a crossroads of corridors beyond. The group moved, still loudly, through the secret door and into the crossroads where they debated which direction they should go. The boisterously loud discussion attracted more attention from nearby creatures, and a group of goblins charged into their torchlight from both the south and east corridors. The party had to defend on two fronts, but the small goblins were well dealt with. A couple of fighters and the cleric took some minor wounding, but no one was seriously injured in the battle.

The party decided to explore down the east corridor. They moved down the hall, still loud and incautious. They came to a pair of doors on either side of the hallway, (which itself continued on further east). The fighter at the head of the party banged on the right-side door for some unstated reason — not that any creature in the dungeon didn’t already know the loud group was approaching. When everyone in the group finally got quiet, he listened at the door, and heard movement and voices somewhere on the other side. When another fighter tried listening to the door on the left side of the corridor, the party got noisy again with excitement over what grand battle might await them behind the first, right-side door. The lead fighter opened the door and the group charged through it.

Dungeon Explored 1The moderately large chamber they charged into was a throne room with tall columns reaching up to the ceiling twenty feet overhead. Half a dozen hobgoblins were staged about the area in a defensive stance, ready for attack. No leaders sat upon the thrones at the far end of the room. The party continued their charge and spread out to each take on a hobgoblin opponent. After a couple rounds of battle, and a few hobgoblin deaths, (with no adventurer death), a group goblins sprang out from behind the thrones to join the battle. The goblin surprise didn’t help the defense, and soon all goblinoid creatures were slain — even those mortally wounded goblins who had dropped their weapons and were trying to crawl away. A few of the fighters and the wizard were moderately wounded, but the cleric managed to heal everyone to at least near full health. (The cleric had a magic item that he could use to cure light wounds once per day for each person.)

After the battle, the party went about giving the throne room a cursory scan. There were three new corridors and a door leading from this room, and the group began another loud debate about what to do next. Then the wizard thought to cast detect magic. The yet unopened door began to glow, revealing a magic spell on it, and from the seat of one of the thrones, a small glow peaked out revealing something magical hidden under the seat.

Two fighters tested the door, and when it wouldn’t open, they set about smashing at it with shield and spear and sword. Another pair of fighters began searching the throne. They determined there was a secret compartment under the seat, and they also set about destructing their way into it. The door-workers made no way, but the throne-abusers managed to break the seat, and found the bottom filled with a jeweled crown, a pile of gold, and a glowing magical ring. One fighter grabbed the crown and gold while the other took up the magic ring.

Several ideas were suggested for using the ring to open the door, and eventually they had the fighter put on the ring and simply open the door. That worked. The group then lined up to move through the magical door into the next room.

The room was a worship area, with religious symbols covering the side walls, a large stone demon face on the far wall, a five-foot wide pit in the center of the floor, and four armored and armed skeletons standing at attention. The fighters continued into the room, stopping only when the armored skeletons animated and attacked. One of the fighters was badly injured pretty quickly, and he had to pull back from the front line. Another fighter took his place, and the cleric healed him. The other fighters handily defeated the undead.

The party began searching the room closely, taking time and attention to examine everything. The pit in the center of the room was three feet deep, blacked by fire and soot, with a pile of ash at the bottom. The demon face was carved directly from the stone wall, with a small concealed area down inside its mouth.

The group discussed methods of testing the room, and one fighter dropped a lit torch down into the ash at the bottom of the pit. Quickly, the ash started glowing and relit. In a puff of flame and smoke, a giant burning snake rose from the pit. The excitement was short-lived as one-two-three, the fighters around the pit destroyed the firey creature in seconds. After the fight, a fighter hopped down into the pit of ash and searched around. The dirty work turned out worthwhile, as he found a very large ruby concealed under the ash.

Then the group put their attention to the stone demon face. One fighter used a dagger to feel around in the demon’s mouth, and felt his blade bump and moved something within it. Another fighter incautiously put his hand into the mouth to feel around, and he snagged his hand on a sharp needle. A sharp needle coated with poison. Fortunately he resisted the poison’s effects. He then reached back into the mouth, again, but avoided getting stuck by the needle, and he pulled out a leather tube pouch. Opening the tube, he found three sheets of parchment with religious prayers written on them. The party cleric looked the papers over and found them to be magic spells: remove poison, continual light, and detect magic.

When the group was satisfied that there was nothing else to discover in the worship room*, they left to take a new corridor out of the throne room. The cleric used one of the just found magic scrolls to cast continual light on the spear tip of the lead fighter. This was useful, as having enough torch light for the party had gotten complicated.

Continued here.

* Note: The boys tried a lot of other activities and searches and ideas in this room, (and in other areas), that I’m not relating. The whole game session was four hours long, and I’m assuming you don’t want to take four hours to read the story in exacting detail, so I’m only writing about the activities and searches and ideas that actually accomplished something.


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