Dead Parties Tell No Tales
The room to the north turned out to be a circular room whose only features were a well with a copper bucket, and a strange basin attached to the eastern wall. Beside the basin was a lever. Once again, the word “Safe” was written on the wall here, but the party was wary of such insistence, and decide to skip the layover but not before noticing the small, slimy mushrooms that grew around the well. The waladin collected a few after recognizing them as nutritious if not particularly tasty.
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When reading about Didarious’ Tomb, I realized that this was Old School D&D: a dungeon with inventive traps and a lot of opportunity for a heads-down party to get into trouble. Sometimes this party has a habit of hacking first and asking questions later, so I was concerned that brash behavior would be naturally punished. I made a comment on Twitter denying responsibility for a TPK (total party kill), which the group took to heart: they spent the better part of the trip into the Serpent Hills discussing a strategy for taking or killing the dwarf they were seeking as if they expected him to be dug in with an army at the head of the trail.
Reading ahead, I like this segment because of it’s throwback qualities. A lot of Hoard and the initial parts of Rise have focused heavily on story and roleplaying, which is to be expected when you’re talking about a campaign that stretches over two modules. There’s not been a lot of areas designed — sorry, engineered — in the traditional “dungeon” fashion that older D&D players remember as the hallmark of almost every D&D game. This tomb isn’t just a hole in the wall; it has purpose, whatever that purpose may be, and it’s designed to showcase that. It’s a challenge to run, though, because to do such a design justice requires a good description, and I hope I’m able to do a good job of it.