Home Game

WHERE HELL COMES TO PREY: Running Nightwick Abbey 02

I have just completed DMing my fifth session of Nightwick Abbey, an OSE megadungeon authored by Miranda Elkins and illustrated by Chris Huth. These posts will be a continuing effort to document this campaign I dubbed Where Hell Comes To Prey. I might try to keep the subsequent summaries to just highlights instead of following my usual pattern of room-to-room player reports.


Our Sunday Congregation:
Miriam M1
Adum F1
Froggie Fr1
Callus C1
Asterion F1

Session 5 FEB 18 Highlights: 
  • Evil Still Prowls: In Nightwick Village, graves continue to be upturned and woodsmen killed; two hirelings are taken on by the party; off to the Abbey

  • YOU ARE PREY!Discussions with amalgams of animal and human are held; PC attempt to build sympathy and trust but instead are betrayed and led to a pit-trap; one hireling dies and Miriam is grievously wounded; a fight ensues and Froggie is mortally wounded but quick action to bind wounds save him from death; several pieces of jewelry are collected

  • Holy Water, Holy $*%^&!: After dropping Froggy off at the church, the party returns with a new magician, an astrologer, and student of Saffory’s Principles of Arcane Dueling; they decide to drop into the pit to explore some hallways; their exploration leads them to a room full of dead all bowed in silent prayer– broken by the cleric’s attempt to turn them; at failure, the dead swordmen’s draw their weapons and charge; holy water, baptizing fire, and some mighty hammer swings; however the Abbey takes its due with a vicious sword through the gut of one of the fighters (DM note: Nat 20 for 6 damage)

Communing With The Abbey: It was around session 03 that I finally was able to dial in the feel that I wanted out of Nightwick. For example in Session 03, I had restocked the West Tower Entrance with 9 Blind Dead since the room also has a statue, I had the players open a door to some sorta of ceremony interrupted. I gave the players a space to negotiate and they bluffed their way into one character being possessed. This encounter contains the eeriness and danger that as a player I've always felt the Abbey has- a lot of high-risk possibilities that drive tense action.

Perfect Timing (With Adjustments): And speaking of tense action, I think the 100 minutes continues to be a good format. It plays quick and I don't feel overly exhausted at the end of it. I do think however, I might need to start caping players out at a table of 4-6 players. Because I am trying to keep to a brisk 100-minute period, it does help to go more times around the table, more rooms are explored, and more encounters can be had. When the table is 7,8, or 9 players, you can't squeeze as much decision-making in the same time-period.

Session Worksheet: I hope to post a little later, but I do have a session worksheet that I have figured out works to keep me on track. The front is devoted to the following
  • Downtime- list the downtime options available
  • Village Happenings- how gossip about the PCs and about factions moving in the background
  • Hirelings- a few hirelings that are available
  • Any additional item
On the back, I write the players' names and just use it to take notes as the session progresses, including jotting down enemy HP totals and treasure gained. I am thinking about adapting Gus L's Tomb Robbers of the Crystal Frontier Expedition Sheet which includes a marching order tracker, turn tracker, and treasure gained.

Downtime in Zyan:  Sticking to the motto of using what I already own, I leafed through this 'zine to understand what I could employ when a player wanted to invest in Rupert vanToad's trading company. I decided to treat as a sorta institution:
  • Tier 1: A greater number of basic goods
  • Tier 2: +1 additional suits of armor
  • Tier 3: Can be treated as a "city" in terms of types of weapons/armor/equipment found there

Nightwick is still a fantastic dungeon to run and I can't wait to get to it! If you are interested, Miranda is running her new Vance-meets-Dunsany crawl Cuccanga over on Start Playing


  1. Question: which subset of Nightwick denizens do you rule that PCs can communicate with? (ie do you gloss over languages as a prerequisite for communication?)

    1. Thanks for reading! Since the Abbey was initially built by the hand of mankind, I have most of the humanoid denizens speak in common (or Relmish). If a different language was required, I'd have them speak "chaotic". But since the Abbey generally would like to seduce those to evil, I think anything that speaks would most likely do so in some form of common.