Sunday, May 14, 2017

Carousing in The Keep

Here is a custom carousing table I am using for my on-again/off-again Open Table campaign based in The Borderlands of module B2.

The standard exchange is 1 XP for 1 GP spent carousing.  We have found this exchange a good balance to the intermittent nature of the game and the high lethality of B/X.


















































































Several of these results tie in with the Reputation Rules we use to add some verisimilitude to the standard B/X reaction tables.

B/X Reputation Rules


Here is a link to the PDF for printing and sharing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

OSR, The Next Generation

This Holiday, I gave my 7-year-old daughter a copy of the Moldvay/Cook B/X rules.  She has created her first character, an Elf named Fierce, and we are preparing to embark on her first adventure with a real Dungeons and Dragons rules set.  Previously I have introduced her to RPGKids (which is a great introduction to roleplaying) and Pocket RPG (a lite RPG rules set being developed by +Brandon Goeringer ).

As we progress into a system that uses the full 6-polyhedral set of dice, I wanted a way to make it easy for her to keep track of which die is which.  I'm sure someone has done something like this before but it was fun to make my own from clip art found on the web.  This Word Document can be printed and cut into strips for each new player at the table.  My Father said he would like to play with us, and I suspect he will need this play aid more than my daughter!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

B/X Reputation House Rules

I've been running my B2 sandbox on-and-off for over a year now.  Some players (not many!) have survived for a while and done some deeds that should influence their experience when interacting with residents of the Outer Bailey and even some of the elites within the Inner Bailey.  We also started using carousing rules, and many of the results suggest shifts in opinion of the character that I want to reflect and give hard meaning.

It is an open table game where some time can pass between sessions and there are about 17 or so active player characters, not to mention those that now inhabit the small cemetery behind the Chapel!  It is hard to keep track of events, even with good notes.

I'm considering putting this simple reputation system in place to give the players a sense of where they stand in the community and to help me create a sense of a dynamic community out on The Borderlands.


B/X Reputation House Rules

Reputation Score

Reputation is measured from -4 to +4.  Often a reputation score is limited to a specific town, village, city quarter or even faction within those geographies.  Typical attitudes toward the specific reputation score are:

-4:  Reviled.  This character is barely tolerated.  In a settlement he is a known criminal, dissenter or perhaps even a member of a hated religion, race or faction.  It is difficult to get respectable merchants to service the character and he is one misstep from being thrown out of town or organization.  Everyone knows this character, unfortunately for everyone...
-3:  Disliked.  Most people do not like to associate with this character.  Perhaps he has a cloud of some past misdeed hanging over his head or has had one too many aspersions cast at him.  The power structure keeps their eyes on this character and he is likely to be questioned when anything untoward happens.  Most people in the settlement or organization know the bad reputation of this person.
-2:  Mistrusted.  No one is overjoyed to have this characters shadow grace their doorstep.  He just doesn't fit it and people let it be known that they would prefer he go away.
-1:  Tolerated.  NPCs are wary of this character but don't go out of their way to hinder him.  Perhaps he is an outsider or a member of a disfavored profession...like adventuring!  This is the usual default starting point for strangers and PCs in most places.
0:  Neutral.  Just that.  The default for characters who are from that settlement or a lower rank or initiate into the faction.
1:  Favorable.  Most people have a good opinion of this character.  He could be a local from a good family or a stranger who has proven his character and ability to be of service to the community. 
2:  Liked.  This character's name has come up a few times at most dinner tables.  He has done regular service for the community or brought success to an organization.
3:  Well-liked.  Few have anything bad to say about this character, and even if they do, there is certainly more good to relate.  This character may hold a respected position or have done many great services to the community or organization.
4:  Paragon.  This character is held up as an example of what to be in this particular settlement or organization.  All of the population knows who this character is and can recite his many deeds.

Reputation Mechanic

Reputation scores affect the normal 2d6 reaction roll on most interactions within the settlement or organization they are applied to.  The Charisma modifier applies as well, meaning that a charismatic character may still do well with NPCs, even though he is not well liked!

Typically a 2 is always a failure, even if the character's Reputation plus Charisma modifier would indicate success.  Nobody gets what they want all the time!  Conversely a 12 is usually a success unless the request is completely absurd.  Even a blind squirrel finds a nut on occasion!

The DM may apply a specific Target Number (TN) to particular actions that are not listed on the core reaction table based on difficulty.  Some examples are below.

Typical Target Numbers

Action
TN
Failure
Normal business with a merchant
4
Prices will be higher, services may be refused.
Get an authority figure to do something they are supposed to do anyway
6
They procrastinate or find a way to refuse.
Convince someone to do something of small risk to themselves
8
They refuse.  Critical failure may result in no help of any kind.
Recruit a hireling
9
No service.  Critical failure may make it harder to recruit any hireling.
Get a free drink from a Tavern Keeper
10
You don't get the free drink.  Critical failure may mean being asked to leave the tavern.
Gain access to the Inner Bailey
10
Doors remain closed.
Convince the Castellan to lend you troops
12
No troops for you.  Critical failure may result in reputation loss.
Win a promotion within a faction
13
No promotion.

Monday, November 9, 2015

B/X Open Table House Rules

I have been running a B/X Open Table game set in The Borderlands for about a year now.  These limited house rules have developed over time.  Some to address some mechanical imbalances I see in the ruleset and to facilitate the 2.5 hour time slot we usually run in.  Others have been rulings based on player questions that I remembered to write down!


B/X House Rules

General


Zero Hit Points
When a character reaches zero hit points or below he is out of the combat. After combat the player may roll a Save vs. Death. If successful the character is clinging to life, but grievously wounded. He will stay unconscious without magical healing or one full day of bed rest. When the character is revived the player must roll on the permanent injury table.

Sundered Shields
A character wielding a shield may sacrifice the shield to negate any one attack against the character or an ally adjacent to the character. The shield is ruined afterwards. If the shield is magical, the attack may be blocked at the cost of one of the magical bonuses of the shield for the remainder of the session.  If all of the magical bonuses are used up and the shield is used to block yet another attack it is irrevocably ruined, otherwise the magical bonuses will return at the beginning of the next game session.

Reach Weapons
The following weapons have reach and can attack enemies 10' away; lance, pole arm, staff, spear. A pole arm cannot be used to attack enemies that are only 5' away, however.
Carousing for XP
Player characters can spend treasure in town to gain XP. Typically 1 XP for each GP spent. The DM has a table you must roll on that can modify that for good or ill, however.

Hirelings
Payment rates are negotiated separately at the time of hiring. Hirelings may have one PC employer only.  That PCs Charisma determines Loyalty.

0-level Torchbearers become Men-at-Arms after surviving 2 sessions.
0-level human Men-at-Arms become 1st level characters after surviving 3 sessions (usually Fighter).
Demi-human Men-at-Arms become 1st level characters after surviving 4 sessions.

Hirelings that gain a class level in service to one PC are henceforth considered a Henchman of that PC.  In the event of PC death, the Henchman may become a PC and inherit the possessions of the deceased at a 10% tax penalty.

After each session the Hirelings loyalty must be tested to see if they will stay with their employer, leave, or ask to renegotiate for higher pay.



Changes and Clarification to Class Abilities


All
Maximum Hit Points for all classes at first level.


Magic-User and Elf Spell Acquisition
Magic-Users and Elves may add spells to their spellbooks from scrolls or other spell books.  Once added the spell disappears from the original source.  Adding a spell to a character's spellbook may only be done during downtime in a safe location.  A spell may only be added to one spellbook.  Read Magic is not necessary.

Cleric
Wisdom modifies the number of First Level spells a Cleric can memorize per day. 13-15 +1, 16-17 +2, 18 +3.


Fighter
Fighters may 'Cleave' after any attack in which they kill their target. The Cleave is one extra attack at a living enemy that must be within melee reach of the fighter at the time.

Thief
Thieves add +2 to their current experience level when consulting the Thief Abilities chart.
Thieves also add their Dexterity score to all Thief Abilities.

Magic-User
Intelligence modifies the number of First Level spells a M-U can memorize per day. 13-15 +1, 16-17 +2, 18 +3.  A M-U may pick their one starting spell, or let the DM roll randomly.  If they let the DM roll randomly the character will start play with three first level spells.


Dwarf, Elf, Halfling
No changes.  Elves start with one spell of their choice or two spells rolled randomly by the DM.  They may memorize extra First Level spells as a M-U.





Friday, October 23, 2015

Castle Gargantua Review

+Kabuki Kaiser  has hit it out of the park again with the latest release of Castle Gargantua.  Castle Gargantua builds on some of the mechanical ideas of procedurally generated adventuring that were featured in Ruins of the Undercity and The MadMonks of Kwantoom.

The book is written for Labyrinth Lord or Lamentations ofthe Flame Princess rules but is generic enough that it could be used as is, or easily converted, to any OSR rules system.  I personally think this would make a terrific Dungeon Crawl Classics setting as well.

Where Castle Gargantua departs from the previous works is that this time the sourcebook is intended to be used by a standard group of players with a GM.  Of course, as the author contends you could run this with a solo group with little in the way of conversion.  All of the tools are presented to organically develop an adventure that has the ability to surprise both players and Judge alike!

The setting for these mechanics is the eponymous Castle Gargantua, a giant magical castle of unknown origins that changes for each group that dares venture through its corridors and chambers.  There are some general themes that tie the whole structure together, including guardians, beginning entry points and the sometimes giant structure of the place.  For instance, instead of the standard 10' square, a grid square is assumed to be 60', creating a rather large adventuring environment. 

All parties begin able to enter through the giant front doors of the fortress, but from there, things can go anywhere.  Each time the party enters a new room the GM throws all the dice and consults a very concise and tight table that gives him the type of room, exits, contents, ambience and specifics on monster, treasure and, of course, weirdness.   There is a meta tracker called The Big Picture, that gives the GM an easy mechanic to tie a cluster of rooms together with various themes such as Stone, Blood, Lust and Wine.  

As if this wasn't enough there are also random Gold areas that can be encountered.  A Gold area differs from the rest of the dungeon because they are mini adventure/lair areas that are completely stocked and ready to go.  In fact, these can easily be pulled out of the implied setting and run as mini-dungeons, or plopped down into your favorite megadungeon.

I am no art critic, but I know what I like. and I like the art in Castle Gargantua. The cover is by  Jeremy Hart who also does some interiors along with David Bouchacourt de Puytorac.  The illos are clean and very evocative of the dungeon themes where they are presented.    The cartography for the Gold encounter areas is done by the unparalleled +Dyson Logos .

The only negative I could say about Castle Gargantua is that it looks like it could play a little over the top with the weirdness, and that may not be a fit for every group out there.  On the other hand, Kabuki does give advice on how to tone down some of the more adult themes that can present themselves, and those same restraints could easily be applied to tone down the weird.


Full disclosure; I received a gratis .pdf copy of Castle Gargantua but ordered the premium color hardback on my own dime cuz it is that good! 


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Home for the Holidays

I received the Moldvay Basic Dungeons and Dragons boxed set for Christmas, 1982.  That gift started a 30+ year fascination with and enjoyment of Roleplaying Games.  I will be forever grateful to my father (an old Avalon Hill wargamer) for introducing and encouraging me in gaming, even though he had no idea (and still really doesn't) what an RPG is!

As an homage to that wonderful Christmas, 32 years ago, I ran several sessions of the module that was included in that set (B2 The Keep on the Borderlands) over G+ Hangouts/Roll20 this holiday season.  In the many years since first reading B2, I have, like many of us, made The Keep and the surrounding environment my own, with lots of stolen ideas along the way!

Here are the session reports from those games, which I named "Home for the Holidays":



Home for the Holidays Part I
Characters
Angon - Elf (killed by Orc war dogs, with a little help from Milo)
Gundahar the Novice - Cleric
Duncan MacTrews - Cleric
Milo Quickfingers - Halfling
Graki - Dwarf

Hirelings
Sturlo - Man-at-arms
Steve - a fine specimen of Mule

Places Visited
The Keep
The Old Watchtower

The party came together in the small village of Lyfford.  Upon realizing they were all headed to The Keep, they agreed to travel together for safety.  Also travelling to The Keep was a Trader named Malcham and his man-at-arms, HurmoreMalcham offered to feed the characters if they traveled with him perhaps offer a monetary bonus if they proved valuable.  All thought that was a smashing idea.

The sharp eyes of Angon the Elf spotted an ambush by bandits within the very sight of The Keep.  Denied their surprise, the bandits offered to let the characters go if they abandoned Malcham and his wagon of goods.  After only the slightest hesitation the characters agreed and earned themselves a 5gp bonus and eternal friendship from Malcham.  This proved useful as it turns out Malcham was heading to The Keep to take over leadership of the Traders' Guild outpost there.

Upon arriving at The Keep, the characters were greeted by the pompous Corporal of the Guard, Hagis MacPhearson.  Everyone entered The Keep legally and with only a minimum of threats and insults.

After collecting their reward from Malcham the characters split up to attend to various chores within The Keep.  The Clerics went to The Chapel and met Father Benedikt, the CurateAngon the Elf bumped into a proselytizing priest named Janos Brightsun and spent the afternoon "hearing the good news!".  Milo purchased some much needed ranged weaponry and Graki made friends with Hagar Patris, the Taverner as well as hiring a stout man-at-arms named Sturlo.

The party learned of various rumors regarding the surrounding area:

1.  Little dogmen inhabit the lower Caves of Chaos.
2.  There once was an old Watchtower somewhere north of the old road.
3.  There is a rumored cave somewhere in the area simply known as The Cave of the Unknown.
4.  An ogre lives at The Caves of Chaos and is known to sell his services as a mercenary.
5.  A fair maiden is rumored to be imprisoned somewhere within The Caves of Chaos.
6.  An ruined monastery is said to be located somewhere on Knobb Hill.
7.  The Cursed Mound is spotted with ancient Barrows that have been known to contain treasure.

Setting out the next morning, primarily in search of the old Watchtower, the party made good time along the old road.  Breaking into the woods the characters did indeed use good sense of the regional terrain to find the old watchtower.  Unfortunately, someone else had the idea of using the old tower and two bandits attacked the party as it approached.  The bandits were fairly easily defeated by withering missile fire.  One was killed and one was captured.  After threats of various sorts the characters learned that the local bandit leader is named Healfdane.  The captured bandit would not divulge the location of the bandit hideout, however.

There was a basement to the tower that needed investigation.  With a bare minimum of hallucination induced intra-party conflict and judicious use of dual turning of skeletons, the pary escaped with a modest treasure and some minor magical armor.  The captured bandit tried to escape and steady Sturlo was forced to kill him with a mighty spear throw.

Spending the night in the tower, several characters on watch noticed a strange purple glow from a location about a mile south of the tower.  Heading that way the party discovered the location of The Cave of the Unknown, now known as The Cave of the Now Known.

Deciding it best to head back to The Keep and refit the party surprised a group of Black Fang Orcs and their war dogs.  In a confused and vicious fight in the woods at dusk the party was victorious but Angon the Elf was lost to a vicious groin-bite of one of the surprisingly tough war dogs.

Upon returning to The Keep the party informed the watch and the Bailiff, one Warden Oakshield, of the presence of Orcs so close to The Keep, earning a little respect along the way.



Home for the Holidays Part II
Characters
Hodthur - Elf
Gundahar the Novice - Cleric (killed by Mushroom Men)
Sarah - Magic User
Graki - Dwarf

Hirelings
Sturlo - Man-at-arms
Steve - a fine specimen of Mule
Rolf - Man-at-arms
Morghild - Fighter

Places Visited
The Keep
The Old Watchtower
The Cave of the Unknown (now the Cave of the Now Known)


Setting out to explore the Cave of the Now Known, the party happened upon a merchant named Lysandrus who was lost and stuck on the wrong side of a ravine.  They helped him arrive safely at The Keep and received a reward of 100 GP.  His guard, Rolf, quit the merchants service to sign on with Graki.

The party arrived safely at The Old Watchtower and camped, heading to the Cave of the Now Known in the morning.  The cave turned out to be vast and dangerous.  Sturlo fell to giant Gecko Lizards, the party found a magically sealed door, a boulder-filled passage that looks like it continues to the northeast, an albino ape nearly killed them all, piercers were adroitly avoided, and Gundahar the Novice sadly fell to walking mushrooms.  Perhaps most sad of all, Steve was carried away by a Carcass Scavenger as the party fled The Cave of the Now Known pell mell.

A mithril chain shirt +1 was found along with 600 gp in assorted coins.       

Home for the Holidays Part III
Characters
Duncan MacTrews - Cleric
Sarah - Magic User
Graki - Dwarf

Hirelings
Morn - Dwarf Man-at-arms
Steve II - a fine specimen of Mule
Rolf - Man-at-arms
Morghild - Fighter
Riff and Raff - Guard Dogs

Places Visited
The Keep
The Old Watchtower
The Cave of the Unknown (now The Cave of the Mostly Known)


The party properly prepared for a return to the Cave of the Unknown with hirelings, weaponry and oil.  Navigating through the treacherous mushroom forest the party assaulted the lair of the Mushroom Men and beat them down systematically.  The most dangerous moment was when it was discovered the Mushroom Men were led by, or had enthralled, a magic-user.  Luckily, some party members made their saving throws against his sleep spell.

Many gems and treasure were recovered from the lair as well as a passage leading far to the northeast.

Home for the Holidays Part IV
Characters
Hodthur - Elf
Sarah - Magic User
Yoan - Dwarf
Esti - Elf (carried off by Carrion Crawlers)
Thorbald - Magic User (killed by Zombies)
Thorbald II - Magic User

Hirelings
Rolf - Man-at-arms
Morghild - Fighter
Raff - Guard Dog
Krill - Man at Arms (killed by Esti - accidentally?)
Dervay - Man at Arms (killed by Zombies)
Mordo - Man at Arms
Murdal - Man at Arms

Places Visited
The Keep
The Old Watchtower
The Cave of the Unknown (now The Cave of the Mostly Known)
The Caves of Chaos

Deciding that further investigation of the Cave of the Unknown was required the party set out from The Keep well provisioned and with a small army of hirelings.  The Cave of the Unknown was mostly empty but no less deadly than usual.  Carnivorous Flies attacked the party while they were trying to get through a magically locked door and Esti the Elf accidentally shot his own retainer in the back, killing poor Kril.  Carrion Crawlers later carried off Esti as the remainder of the party fled to the sunlight. 


Re-entering the cave the party searched the lair of the Mushroom Men again and decided to climb the 35' escarpment to a cave heading Northeast.  This cave ended up meeting with another passage and led to the heretofore undiscovered Caves of Chaos.  The party explored some part of an evil lair containing Zombies (which killed Dervay and Thorbald), evil cultist and a torture room, complete with torturer and goblin victim.  After grabbing a fair bit of treasure and a magical amulet, the party fled back to The Keep.

Home for the Holidays Part V
Characters
Theodosious - Cleric
Sarah - Magic User
Graki - Dwarf
Duncan - Cleric
Manilow - Fighter
Thark  - Dwarf
Eisenbart - Dwarf

Hirelings
Rolf - Man-at-arms
Morghild - Fighter
Raff - Guard Dog
Riff - Guard Dog
Drowin - Man at Arms


Places Visited
The Cursed Mound Barrows

Many brave adventurers gathered for an expedition to The Cursed Mound, to look for the burial mounds that are said to dot the surface of the hill.  The Dwarves Graki, Thark and Eisenbart made good use of their heritage and found several tunnels into the side of the hill.  Methodically exploring each one, as Dwarves are wont to do, the party avoided nearly all of the deadly traps set by the Helvetii tribesmen who interred their most famous heroes and leaders in these barrows.  Much treasure was plundered and a set of stairs leading down into an obviously larger underground demesne was also found.  One tomb door refused even the most determined efforts to open and it was determined by Sarah that a magic spell of opening would be required to access it.



Home for the Holidays Part VI
Characters
Svein - Dwarf (nearly killed by Fire Beetles - Hideously Scarred)
Tagen - Fighter

Hirelings
Rolf - Man-at-arms (killed by Giant Weasel)
Morghild - Fighter
Drug - Dwarf Man-at-arms (killed by Giant Weasel)
Pelgash - Cleric


Places Visited
The Cursed Mound Barrows and Dungeon beneath said

Two newcomers to The Keep formed an adventuring party to further exploit the finds in The Cursed Mound.  They wisely hired retainers that had been there with a previous group to guide them.  They found a sealed barrow and decided to loot it.  Unfortunately for Rolf and Drug, a Giant Weasel had burrowed into the grave and made it a lair.  It killed the poor retainers before the rest of the party killed it.  The graves were robbed thereafter and a very fine, ancient and magical sword was recovered.

Next the party located the previously looted barrow of The Prince and Princess and found the stairs down.  They encountered several groups of Fire Beetles, including one that further incapacitated Svein.  The party returned to The Keep with a moderate haul of gold and the extremely valuable sword.


Home for the Holidays Part VII
Characters
Svein - Dwarf
Tagen - Fighter
Fathis - Thief (nearly killed by Sapphire Skeleton - no ill effects)

Hirelings
Pelgash - Cleric
Burdue - Man-at-arms
Wart - Man-at-arms
Waylen - Torch Bearer


Places Visited
The Cursed Mound Barrows and Dungeon beneath said

Returning to the Dungeon beneath The Cursed Mound, the intrepid explorers made use of the knowledge gained regarding Fire Beetles to bypass the largest groups of the giant insects to loot several grave chambers.  Skeletons of varying toughness, speed and special abilities were overcome with minimal loss of life.  Fathis nearly succumbed to a skeleton with a sapphire in its skull that reanimated after being 'destroyed', but a luckily was only "mostly dead".  He recovered from his wounds with no ill effects.  
A strange stone arm with a clenched fist was uncovered as well as a magical talisman that helps to protect against catastrophe.  The statue arm was confirmed to be magical by Sarin Moondance, Elven advisor to The Castellan.


Home for the Holidays Part VII
Characters
Svein - Dwarf
Tagen - Fighter (nearly killed by Satyrx - lost an eye)
Manilow the Adequate - Fighter

Hirelings
Pelgash - Cleric
Morghild - Fighter and the real PC of the group...
Rothdic - Man-at-arms (killed by Giant Killer Bees)
Jarol - Torchbearer
Craccus - Torch Bearer (killed by Harpies)


Places Visited
Brynden's Stop

While Fathis the Thief recovered from his near death, Tagen and Svein joined forces with the Fighter Manilow, who had been spending months in a debauch after a successful barrow looting expedition.  The group decided to explore the old Verundian road that headed past the Fellgrim Forest to the East.  About a days journey they discovered that the road led to an old fortress in ruins.  Carefully exploring the ruins led to two near-deadly encounters back to back.  The unlucky Rothdic stepped on a Giant Killer Bee hive and paid the price with his life.  Svein was stung but shrugged off the deadly effects, due in no small part to the magical talisman he had recovered in the Dungeon beneath The Cursed Mound.
Misfortune found the party a second time in the form of a clutch of Harpies that charmed half of the men and made a quick meal of Craccus.  Quick thinking, unerring missile fire, and a heap of luck saw the rest of the party through that encounter and to the Harpies treasure stash, which was significant.  Manilow acquired another, yes another, cursed weapon.  This time a sword of the berserker.
Investigating the upper chambers of the redoubt the party discovered the ghost of the former commander of the fort, one Sir Amoral.  Several of the group offended the ghost, but Tagen succeeded in convincing Sir Amoral to teach him a fighting technique.  Unfortunately Tagen failed the test Sir Amoral put to him, and nearly died in the attempt.  The failure did cost him an eye, however.  The party nursed Tagen back to The Keep where he recuperates from his wound.

Home for the Holidays Parts VIII and IX
Characters
Svein - Dwarf (Deceased)
Tagen - Fighter
Manilow the Adequate - Fighter
Milo - Halfling
Fathis - Thief
Malor - Magic User
Nimorn - Elf

Hirelings
Pelgash - Cleric
Jarol - Torchbearer promoted to Man-at-Arms
Grommett - War Dog (Killed by Goatmen)
Landersuth - Man-at-Arms

Places Visited
The Caves of Chaos (Finally!)
The Ruined Monastery
The Dungeon beneath The Cursed Mound

Finally a group of reavers decided to descend upon The Caves of Chaos en masse.  Heeding rumors heard in The Keep, they stuck to a lower cave, expecting lighter resistance from smaller monsters.  They found a cave inhabited by 3' tall hairy humanoids with twisted goat heads.  The goatmen seemed weak individually, but they used ambush, traps and sheer numbers to try and overwhelm the party.  The party prevailed, but not before losing the recently purchased war dog, Grommett, to tiny goat spears and the brave Svein the Dwarf, despite owning a very powerful amulet that had saved his life many times before.  The party looted quite a bit of treasure after chasing the majority of the goatmen from their cave, proving that although deadly, The Caves of Chaos can also be lucrative.

Upon leaving the Goatman cave the party discovered that the survivors had apparently run to another cave, where they were just emerging with a troop of very competent looking red-skinned humanoids in heavy infantry kit.  The party wisely tipped on out back to The Keep.  A small band of three Lizardmen attacked the well-armed party, inexplicably on the route home.  After defeating the reptile-men, the party carried their bodies back to The Keep and caused quite a stir.  Apparently there was a large Lizardman problem about 15 years ago that nearly destroyed The Keep.  Veterans of that war were disturbed to think that the Lizardmen may be in Spawn, a 6 to 12 month period where the males compete for mates and are known to attack in a berserk rage against any odds.  More ominously, it is a time when a typical Lizardman tribe may breed exponentially and increase up to ten-fold in size in a short period of time.

A soldier was put on trial, and convicted of, assaulting a farmer.  He was sentenced to be flogged.  Gypsies arrived at The Keep but were not permitted to enter.  They set up their camp at the crossroads a mile south of The Keep.  Fortune-telling services, as well as cheap tinkered items are available.  Tagen visited Madame Roux to get his fortune told and discovered he was going to become a powerful, rich and famous warrior.  No one believed her...

More unbelievably than predictions of Tagens survival and success was the discovery that the Castellan had done nothing to address the impending Lizardman threat.  Upon investigation the party discovered that patrols and military presence in general had been declining in the past year and The Keep projected nearly no presence into The Borderlands any longer.  Veterans such as the Sergeant of the Guard, Borus Bonegrinder, voiced their frustration at the lack of aggressiveness and decline in troop morale.

Replacing Svein with a recently arrived Nimorn, and leaving Malor to his studies at The Keep, the party headed to Knobb Hill to discover the location of a rumored ruined Monastery.  Finding it, and the inevitable door leading to the catacombs beneath, the party descended but beat a hasty retreat after they were confronted by 2 ghouls and 2 four-armed skeletons which dropped two party members in as many seconds.  Poor Milo nearly lost his arm but it was miraculously saved by Father Janos Brightsun upon returning to The Keep.  Nimorn underwent a spiritual awakening after nearly succumbing to a vicious Ghoul bite.

Deciding to pursue easier treasure, the party returned to the familiar stomping grounds of the dungeon beneath The Cursed Mound.  Several vicious traps were navigated with varying degrees of success and aplomb.  An altar room with animated statues was looted, providing a magical bronze bowl that Nimorn determined can create a random magic potion once per day, as well as a watery-themed sarcophagus room with a water weird hiding in a font.