HOLE IN THE OAK PLAYTHROUGH: A Fairy Tale of Murderous Whimsy

Once Upon A Time...

There were four brave adventurers Desmano the Cleric, Grom the Fighter, Rodu the Illusionist, and Tadu the Thief, who descended into the shimmering depth of the Incandescent Grottoes. 

But this story will not be about them-- because they all electrocuted themselves mucking about with some levers and an electrified portcullis. Instead, this story will be about eight brave adventurers...

The Dwarf brothers Abo and Bo, Carl the Thief, Don and Rex the Clerics of the Seven Sisters of Sorrow, Changar the Fighter, Melf the Magic-User, and Plexa the Elf,

...descending into the mysterious Hole In The Oak.

(DM NOTE: Basically the party TPK'd so I grabbed the next closest book to me which was Hole in the Oak. The fantastic formatting allowed us to just jump right in.)

~SESSION 1~

01. BOTTOM of the SHAFT: The party's first problem was how to get all eight of their members down. Since they randomly rolled for equipment, the magic-user's rope was tied off on some rocks at the top and Carl the Thief secured the other end. After dropping a torch down to the bottom and confirming nothing was amiss, the party descended.

02. JUNCTION & 3. GRABBING ROOTS: Their first choice was turning east and running into a snarl of roots. A spear was the first item quickly lost to the grasping things. That won't do. The party attempt to cut through the roots losing a few more pieces of gear. After that, they decide to head west because it was the least amount of trouble.

10. TRIGGERED ILLUSION: The party is brought up short by the illusion of a wizard with a white-whiskered beard. The pause proves unfortunate as it allows a crab-spider to creep up from behind. Father Rex in the back holds the line as the dwarves and Changar the Fighter push back in rank to slay the beast!

11. TELEPORT CIRCLE: After a few spider-crab claws are taken for later roasting, the party pushes north into a room dominated by a wide round rug. The players, themselves being vets of old-school play, are immediately are suspicious. The probe again with their trusty 10' pole which- poof- vanishes! They also watched as a group of frogs hopped over the rug and turned north- many disappeared in the process. The group formed-up tight and moved to the west door. Theif picked it and they were inside. 

12. TINY PEOPLE: The party finds themselves perplexed by the jars of tiny dead people. A few a crushed in the investigation process and ultimately some tiny burials are performed by the clerics (DM NOTE: Gave them +1 on any next roll in response). They grabbed the spell scroll, left, and continued north.

15. TREASURE & PIT: Piles of gold and silver chalices spur Carl the Theif to leap the pit. Precious minutes are spent eyeing the treasure pile in an attempt to see if there are any traps. Players decide to go for it only see the illusion vanish leaving being a single foot-high wooden chess piece. They take it. Could be useful later. It's also at this juncture the players come across the phantasmal form of Bozurah who curses them all with mustaches!

(DM NOTE: Ended session 1 right here. For non-megadungeon adventures, I generally don't require exit from the dungeon. However, maybe that is an overall good rule for all dungeon adventures because it allows the players to take stock of what they've experienced and adjust.)

~SESSION 2~ 

18. DROWNED CORPSES: The party makes its way north and falls into the waiting ghouls' trap. At first, the party attempts to offer some of the tiny bottled humans they collected from Room #12. However, too dry and crunchy, but the ghouls offer them the option to fetch them fauns for dinner or become the dinner.

(DM NOTE: To better simulate this following, I just replaced "spoor" or "clue" on my Overloaded Encounter Die table with "Ghouls following PCs". Made it easy to remember and its a way to ratch up tension with the PCs).

16. TROGLODYTES: Reversing south our 8 heroes examine two locked doors to the east. Carl the Thief is able to pick the second door. Noting the foul stench and seeing the 3 reptilian figures hunched in the dark, both clerics call for an attack. Bursting through the door the party gains surprise! Carl's first swing is a miss, but Plexa the Elf follows up with a brutal sword through the heart of the smallest monster! A melee ensues, with the foul stench (of innocence perhaps because these monsters were just eating fish) choking the PCs, the monsters (maybe defending their home) were able to land some solid blows. But the melee prowess of cleric, dwarf, elf and thief proved too much!

The party made a thorough search of the room, discovering the three faces on the walls and the secret room therein. Avoiding the poison-trapped chest, the party made a nice discovery of a treasure worth 2000 GP + a 400 GP bracelet. Melf took the bracelet, but the party thought it too much to carry and vowed to return.

(DM NOTE: I've been trying this game the whole 2-in-6 for all thief skills and I like it. I think the X-in-6 matches a lot of BX adjudication and helps provide a bump in the starting skills. The X-in-6 thief class variant is also used in the Nightwick Abbey game I play with similar satisfaction. I also got a lot of good laughs out of the players' "guilt" over this fight. I really hammed up how these trogs had their dinner interrupted by some murderous band of burglars led by zealots.)

19. GHOUL BAY: Hauling the trog bodies back to the ghouls, the party hopes to make a deal that this fulfills their obligation. And with some luck, it does! (DM NOTE: Good RxN roll). The PCs quickly deal with the half-torso ghoul here and make a search of the driftwood and bones pile-- finding yet more treasure:  They discover a sack full of gems worth ~2000 GP total and a crystal dagger (+1).

20. FISHING BAY: Back south again as the ghouls were finishing their meal. After eyeing the party up, the ghouls repeated their want of faun flesh before slinking away. The party scurried back to Room #16 and locked the doors behind them. They then went through the east door in the room and up to Room #20- the fishing spot of the trogs. Finding nothing they turned south again to an unexplored hallway.

22. THE HALL OF KINGS: The party enters this hall of six statues of past kings. And are presented with quite a few options here: south archway, west archway, and to the east- four doors. Of the eastern doors, they find two locked but behind one is a loud rumbling snore-- they don't want to mess with that one. After some deliberation, they travel south to the archway.

(DM NOTE: I just had the players make up a few names and one notable deed.)

14. THE BLADE TRAP: The players knew something was up the minute I described an archway with skulls carved in it. That got a big chuckle. The dwarven brothers and thief kicked into find the trap mode and worked out the pressure plate. They spiked it to not depress and looted the skeletal body there. Then continued south then to the west to Room #4.

04. FACES OF THE DEEP: The party arrived at this early archway and were struck by the faces formed out of roots. In a gravelly unison, the root-face collective outlined how to receive information. The party laid out 10 GP for information and was told the location of a lost tomb and about the remains of an underground temple.

~SESSION 3~

33, 34, 35. BATS, PILLAR, & FACE DOOR: With new information in hand, the party turns east toward the cave complex. They take note of the two entrances to the north as they march east through the cave complex to arrive at three doors with faces on them: bull, jester, lion. 

And to their delight, they find the 10-foot pole (1-2 frogs as well) lost to the rug that was teleported here! They listen to each but decide the snorting bull is the way forward.

42. DRIPPING GROTTO: The players carefully navigate this room but continue north.

43. HOLES AND CREVICES: Surounded by holes in the natural rock that would just comfortably fit a human hand, the players decide to not risk going after anything they see sparkling. North they go!

44. LIZARD'S DEN: On their walk north, they players do take note of the hallway to the west which opens into a chamber containing a nest with several large eggs.

46. LIZARD SHIRNE: The players find out what laid those eggs. And unfortunately these giant lizards did not like the intrusion and took an immediate and aggressive stance ((DM NOTE: Bad RxN roll)! As the party took up their fighting formation and locked eyes with the lizards, strange visions of erotic lizardfolk rituals overtook most of the party's vision... which was really unfortunate as the fighter was quickly bitten in half! The three other "pets" of an era long past, launched into the remaining members. Each beast in turn obtained a mouthful of hero! 

With this new vision of blood shed replacing the lizard-induced one, the remaining party members turned and fled. But first they took eggs from the lizard's nest in Room #44 and made their way out of the oak (suprisingly forgetting to go back for their hidden treasure).

...the end!

In a sorta epilogue Carl the Thief, Father Don, and Melf the Magic-User (and his man-servent) returned to Cliff's End to sell the lizard eggs to two different nobel factions. 

(DM NOTE: For the selling of the eggs I just used the Retainer Negotiation table and we role-played out the deal. It was a lot of fun watching the players come up with reasons why selling potentially giant erotic-vision-inducing lizards was a good idea. There was often mention of a "giant-lizard gap" in the nobel's army they wouldn't want to fall back on.

I also had the players come up with defining features of the nobel houses. And if the game had continued I would have just used the Encounter Reaction table to determine the relationship of the nobel houses to each other. 

If I were to pick this adventure up again, I might just have the new players pick up from where the old player left off. A nobel house wants their own giant lizard eggs ["There is a strategic gap in our military."] and has hired the party to retrieve them. I would use some standard restock methods and maybe a new treasure to re-balance the total amount.)

 

Shaded areas are those the party explored in
Session 1 (yellow), Session 2 (pink), & Session 3 (blue)

 



 


2 comments:

  1. I love the shading for the different areas! It's so clever and effective.

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    Replies
    1. Hey! Thank for reading. Yes, I'm always curious as a DM how much territory the PCs cover session to session in relation to the dungeon as a whole.

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