Calawas - Elf Thief (Katz)
Amalia - High Elf Cleric (Paraj)
Volbak - Dwarf Knight (Jim)
Lamaevhun - Wood Elf Scout (Tim)
Ilsildel - High Elf Wizard (Martin)
Chief - Wood Elf Barbarian (Catherine)
Last session ended with the ignominous death of my beloved bandits. (Actually brigands - there is a difference.) The thief, undeterred by his wounds, immediately set about casing their quarters, finding some small change, a few rations, and the Manual of the Sea, a manual of Shiphandling written by the mad Dwarf Durgin Ulubad. It's quite ornate, quite magical, quite valuable (the letters are inlaid aquamarines!) and also 1,400 lbs - the pages are slabs of stone. Yep. This was actually the slab that Calawas was tossed onto for later interrogation in the last session - the book protector is just light enough that the Barbarian could move it without herniating himself.
Cue appropriate amounts of dickering about treasure, spurred on when the party found silver and even a bit of gold on the bodies of their enemies. (I'm using the bog-standard DF values for copper, silver, and gold, which makes gold very valuable.)
Funnily enough, the thief and the scout (who were, for pretty much the whole session, in single-digit HP range - more on this later) were stuck in the bandit hole-up when this noise attracted a swarm of dire rats from the pantry. Things were looking a bit sticky, because your typical ROUS brings friends, until the resident Problem Solv-err, I mean wizard Glued them to the floor. Let's see: rats with ST 9 need to make a ST-5 check to move one hex, then do it again to move another...nope. Like shooting fish in a barrel. Or rats in a trap. Still, this stirred up the indigenous wildlife a tad, so that after folks were done looting the bodies, things had been riled up.
Rather than waiting for healing, Calawas hobbled ahead, going down the southern corridor to check out - oh, hey, wait, is that a bloated decomposing body? Awesome! Does it have any stuff? What? No? Sure it does! Let me squish around in it a bit!
And that's how he didn't notice the Huge Fierce Green Snake Barring the Way! -I mean, curled up in the corner. Or rather, shortly afterward he did, after it missed him. Cue hijinks that involved setting a corner of the moathouse on fire, the already half-dead thief getting poisoned and narrowly escaping with his life thanks to the attentions of the party cleric and the barbarian not killing everyone simply because the wizard prepared Sleep that day. (As noted before, Berserk and Sense of Duty to Adventuring companions creates some powerful synergy for DF.)
Well, that's all well and good - off to the nearby room! What's in here?
At the same time, the scout and wizard, who had wanted to go down the other hallway, get ambushed by a tick. Yes, not that impressive, though it was the size of a human head. More of a freakish annoyance than anything else. After that, there was serious talk of going home - it was around 1900 game time - or at least resting. They eventually decided to clear out one of the rooms, bring the horses into the Great Hall, and post a watch, hoping for the best. Well, what do you know, the best happened - they weren't molested in the slightest, despite the swamp being thick with prowling wildlife. Good thing, too, because the cleric is their only source of healing, and she's beginning to feel stretched. Part of that is that she didn't even focus on healing so much as being a "divine caster" - i.e. the one who deals with undead and other icky stuff.
Afterward they tossed more rooms, finding a few pieces of worthwhile treasure but not much. They finally approached the last room, having already found the stairs and cordoned them off for later exploration, and discovered that the room was an old barracks with a giant lizard. Well, that was easy. The barbarian and the knight took care of him, and we broke there. I fully anticipate the thief going through its guts and trying to swallow anything he finds.
Okay, so I'm coming to realize that I need to help rein in Calawas' player. He likes the limelight, and most of the time other people enjoy him having it up to a point, because he's a good actor and a funny guy. However, other people need to be able and allowed to do things. I need to work on including them.
Also, I need to work on presenting random encounters in a better way. The Moathouse is especially egregious, what with wandering nasty wildlife and ghouls and so on, to the point where there were a few jokes about Gygaxian ecology and spontaneous generation. I think this will die down as the random encounters make more sense, i.e. are more able to be rationally integrated into the backdrop. However, we'll see. It's still an area to work on.
The party badly needs a leader. This is related to the first issue, but the whole session was effectively them flailing around - getting things done, certainly, but mostly because everyone was rescuing the thief when he went off and did stupid stuff on his own. It's in some way self-correcting; if he keeps wandering off alone while bleeding out and barely able to move, something will eat him. As it is, he only survived because I drew the interior of the Moathouse two sizes too small.
Finally, the Manual of the Sea really makes me happy. It's quite valuable, but also quite heavy, and a little crazy to boot. It presents a conundrum to the players and is also the reward to that conundrum. There was talk of clearing out the Moathouse and setting up a museum, even. And it's all thanks to the random tables in Dungeon Fantasy 8