The first three sessions of the game, they had managed to clear out the surface level of the castle, but they weren't able to get into the dungeons underneath. Clifton Caldwell managed to find a magic-user that could bypass the wizard lock on the sealed door, but the poor magic-user wasn't interested in going through the trap door she found in the room on the other side. So, Clif hired the party for 100 gp each to drop through the trap and clear out the dungeons. [If you plan to play Castle Caldwell as a player, I should warn you that there are lots of spoilers ahead. Since the module has been out for 33 years, though, I'm plowing ahead.]
The party was the same as last session - Bruegor (third level halfling thief), Martin (second level human cleric), Greld (first level dwarf), Jack (first level human fighter), Harald (first level halfling), Neville (first level elf), Pardant (first level human cleric), and Welmond (first level human magic-user). Between the third and fourth sessions, Glenn asked if he could switch some of the race-as-class characters to race and class, and I agreed, so during the second half of the dungeon Greld became a dwarf fighter, Harald became a halfling thief, and Neville stayed a race-as-class elf.
This is one of the things I enjoy about using Labyrinth Lord (and applies to a lot of the retro-clones and old rule sets). The ability to mix and match specifics, in this case combining some race-as-class characters like Basic D&D and race and class characters like AD&D, makes it a lot easier to let players play the characters they want. Fortunately, Labyrinth Lord has rules for both, which makes it even easier.
Anyway, on with the action.
The party used Bruegor's rope of climbing to enter the dungeon through the trap door. They lit their lanterns and were getting the lay of the land when they realized that the trap door had closed and disappeared. They started to explore the ceiling with lanterns and the rope, but couldn't find a way back through. The party was trapped in the dungeon until they could find another way out.
A man that looked remarkably like Welmond came into the room, greeted the party, and introduced himself as Hallowell. After a bit of questioning, he explained that he was in the dungeons performing a bit of magical research. He offered to let the party see his work and talk for a bit in his rooms. The party agreed, and they all struck out through the dungeon. On the way, he pointed out a couple of the doors, explaining that some of his colleagues, rivals really, were behind one. The other he explained away as an area of the dungeons he hadn't explored.
Most of the party was skeptical, but Welmond pushed ahead, having both an abysmally low wisdom and a desire to see some of the research. When the group got to Hallowell's rooms, Welmond went inside while the rest of the party tried to keep a watch on the hallways outside with one eye and a watch on Welmond and Hallowell with the other. Hallowell took Welmond to his desk and pulled a thick sheaf of papers from a shelf. As Welmond leaned over to look at the notes, Hallowell's hand transformed, turning a sickly gray with long claws. Unfortunately, that was the last thing the poor magic-user saw. The doppelganger attacked with surprise and killed him with a single attack!
With the magic-user down, the doppelganger rushed to block the door to prevent the rest of the party from entering. It managed to back against the door, holding it mostly shut. Bruegor squeezed into the room and attacked it. Over the next couple of rounds, the party outside tried to force the door open while Bruegor kept the doppelganger busy. After a couple rounds, they forced the door and killed the monster. Realizing that it had killed Welmond, the clerics said a quick prayer and covered him with his cloak. Then they moved deeper into the dungeon.
I should note here that the module says to try to have the doppelganger lure a single party member away from the others, attempt to kill them, and then return to the party as that character. Since Glenn is playing the whole party, that wasn't really possible. Still, he played along with splitting Welmond from the rest of the party. I then modified the tactics of the doppelganger based on the situation, with an eye to keeping as close to the module as possible while not making it too deadly. The struggle with the door was simply opposing strength checks. If both made the check or failed it, the door stayed where it was. If one side succeeded and the other failed, the door would move in the direction the winner was pushing. The party got bonuses for a couple of characters pushing at the same time. I decided it would take one successful check by the party to open the door enough to allow a single character to squeeze around it. A second success would open it enough to allow two characters a round to enter. Two wins by the doppelganger would allow it to shut and bar the door.
There were three rounds of struggling for the door. The first round, the party won and Bruegor slipped in. The second round was a bust for both sides. I think Neville jumped in that round. The following round the party won again, and the rest of the party jumped into the room in time to see the monster die.
Heading out from the doppelganger's room, the party struck further into the dungeon. They found one room with an ornate lock on the door, but couldn't pick it or force it.
They investigated an empty room that led to another hallway with three doors leading from it. Bruegor checked the first door for noise and traps, then opened it. He could see a few coins and a dagger on the floor inside. As he was moving to open the door wider, a thick translucent pseudopod grabbed him and started pulling him into a gelatinous cube. He failed his save versus paralysis, so he was helpless to fight against it. The rest of the party tried to free him, but the cube managed to cause enough damage to kill the halfling just before the party killed it.
By this point the party was feeling exceptionally nervous. They had encountered two monsters in the dungeon so far and lost a party member to each. They still pressed on, though, hoping they could find a way out of the dungeon before more party members were killed.
They explored another empty room along the hallway, then found a door that opened into an unfinished cave. Searching around, they encountered some berzerkers, which they quickly dispatched, and a trio of thouls, who managed to inflict a bit of damage before they were also killed. They also managed to pile up quite a bit of coin, a magic sword the leader of the berzerkers was using, and an ornate key. With the caves being a dead end, the party retreated into one of the empty rooms, spiked the door shut, and decided to take a rest.
The next session, we picked up with the party getting up from their rest and resuming their hunt for a way out. We discussed the rules for recovering hit points a bit, and realized that we have been breaking the rules for forty years give or take. I'll talk about that in another post.
The party returned to the room where they entered the dungeon and again checked for the trap door. No luck; it still hadn't reappeared. So they started checking out the doors they had bypassed on the way to the doppelganger's room. They discovered a pair of magic-users in one room and managed to kill both of them before they could even attack the party. Their luck was turning!
The next room, their luck turned again. They were attacked by some giant robber flies that were nesting in the walls. They killed a few of them before the last one retreated into its nest in the wall. Unfortunately, Neville was killed just before the last one fled. With nothing to do but press on, they moved Neville's body into the room with Welmond's, said a quick prayer and made their way to the door with the ornate lock.
As suspected, the key they found with the thouls opened the lock. The room was bare inside except for a corner cabinet heaped with treasure that emitted a green glow. The party was careful exploring around the walls looking for secret doors, but a couple of characters got too close. As soon as they were within ten feet of the cabinet, they disappeared. The rest of the party froze for a second. Wondering if they had teleported somewhere or if they had been killed, they tied a rope on Harald and sent him into the green glow. He also disappeared, along with the rope! (I gave the rope a 50% chance to go with him and a 50% chance to stay with the cleric holding it.)
At this point, Glenn and I had a bit of a discussion. We decided to resolve all of the action in the room with the corner shelf before I revealed what happened to the characters that had disappeared. I counted off the rounds when each character disappeared in the glow. When the party was finished with their action in the room with the shelf, I described what happened round by round to the vanishers. Fortunately, after Harald disappeared along with the rope, the rest of the party stepped into the glow on the following round.
The party found themselves in a large room with ten stone sarcophagi, an inlaid circle in the center of the floor, and no exits. They examined and explored the circle first. It was made from green marble and had a brass circle with intricate details around the edge. Unfortunately, it didn't appear to do anything on first examination, so the group turned to the sarcophagi.
They started by examining all around them. The tops were heavily decorated, and there was a single seam between each lid and the case. The lids were solid stone and only the strongest members of the party could budge them when they worked together. When they opened the lid of the first coffin, the circle in the center of the room glowed green for a few seconds, and then the light winked out. Seeing the light, Harald and Pardant went to investigate. As soon as they touched the edge of the circle, they disappeared again.
The rest of the party wasn't daunted this time, and they continued to investigate. They opened a couple more sarcophagi and found masses of coins entombed with the dead. The fourth coffin they opened contained a wight, who jumped out to attack the party. Greld and Jack attacked it, while Martin stood back ready to turn. Throughout the dungeon, Jack had a hard time hitting anything in combat, but the sword he took from the berzerker leader came through. He scored hit after hit on the wight. Unfortunately, the wight managed to score one hit on Martin, draining him of a level, but the next second Greld and Jack destroyed the undead thing. In the sarcophagus they found a scroll tube that contained a map to a treasure hidden in the entry room, a scroll, and a scrap of paper with a poem telling how to get out of the dungeon.
Now they had their way out, but they wanted to explore more before they tried to follow the others. They were wary when they were opening the rest of the coffins. They moved across the room and found another sarcophagus that contained only grave goods. The they opened another with a second wight! This time the fighters waded in right away and put the thing down in just a couple rounds. The next three coffins produced more coin. Finally, they approached the last sarcophagus.
As they pulled the lid back, they triggered a trap. A liquid sprayed on Jack, eating into the steel of his armor and equipment. Anything metal that was not magical aside from gold and silver was eaten away by rust in moments. He was able to save the magic sword, but his armor and other weapons were eaten away. With the last coffin opened, they puzzled how to get back to the others. Eventually they loaded a few sacks and tossed them into the circle. When they disappeared, the group loaded up the rest of the treasure and jumped on the circle themselves.
The circle turned out to be a teleporter back to the room with the corner shelf. By the time Greld, Jack, and Martin jumped back, Harald and Pardant had explored the room for secret doors again and found out that the corner shelf and its treasure were illusory. They also found out that they couldn't teleport back to the other three.
Once the party was all back together, they followed the instructions in the poem and found a secret door that led out of the dungeon. They gathered their treasure and the bodies of their dead party members and headed back to the Mug and Barrel.
The party lost three members this time around, but they managed to collect quite a bit of treasure. They were able to collect enough to have a patriarch in the city cast a raise dead on Bruegor, but not enough to raise the other two. With Bruegor recuperating for at least a couple of weeks, the rest of the party has time to recruit some new members and hunt up some rumors that will hopefully lead to their next adventure.
Despite the criticism of this module (along with a lot of other later TSR-era D&D modules), it had some good challenges and we had a lot of fun with it. There was a real risk with the teleporters at the end that the party would trap themselves in the dungeon and have to dig their way out of the crypt. This was the second of five parts in the module, and some of the rumors will eventually lead to the other three parts.
These were our last two sessions of 2018. We've started playing regularly, and I'm looking forward to keeping the momentum going.
Happy New Year! Here's hoping we all get to roll dice more in 2019.