17 July 2018

Duo Session Report: Alexander searches for the Thracian Caverns in Southern Dolmenwood

Alexander Coulter saw several building foundations. He had been told that one of them had an opening leading to the caverns below. He wandered onto the foundation nearest the swamp, and moved to it's edge to improve his view of the swamp, which hitherto had been obscured by trees.

While he was calculatedly attempting to observe every detail, a formation of shapes rose from the water and a volley of arrows landed near, some piercing his armor and wounding him. He fled the platform and very cautiously climbed another foundation, finding a tablet in Dwarvish, which he could read, describing a hidden entrance. After nearly an hour of slow, wary movement through the ruins and surrounding forest, he found it, but he found a stranger thing first.

Around noon, he nearly stumbled into a hole in the ground nearly as wide as he was tall, perfectly rounded and reinforced by stone edges. The midday sun provided a mostly clear view of what he believed to be a ritualistic sacrifice with over twenty in attendance, some in robes, some in armed and in armor, some dressed like ordinary folk, about sixty feet below. The victims, naked and bound, were shoved, suddenly, out of Alexander's sight. He suspected their death when their terrified screams suddenly ended.

Confident that he had found a better entrance, probably safer and leading to a tactical advantage against whatever may be below, he entered the building of dark stone that housed only a staircase, and descended toward darkness with his torch lit.

At the bottom of the stairs, he saw a wall directly ahead of him and heard a sharp cracking sound more than a half-dozen times in a row. Sensing the possibility of a trap, he studied the entryway and everything on the other side of it care, finally peering around the corner without placing his body fully through the arch.

He saw the eyes of a man whose body was pressed up against the wall. His armor was similar to the armor of those Alexander had seen through the hole from above. The man's eyes immediately met Alexander's eyes, as if they had been waiting for the torch to illuminate the being that held it, and five others just behind him joined in a frenzied ambush and cut him down.

Notes

The Caverns of Thracia are deadly to anyone who doesn't have a sense of what's going on down there. I'm playing a duo game with my wife, Emily. She doesn't know what's going on down there.

Alexander was her first character in Dolmenwood and her first character to visit the Thracian ruins and the caverns below.

If you're used to a more "heroic" game, especially one with more party members, this might seem unfair, deadly, and not fun. Well, that's partly true; it's deadly and it's unfair.

Emily lost a character who only took a few minutes to create and whose information was written on an index card character sheet (which I'll be sharing in my next post.) Now she knows something about the inhabitants of the dungeon below, though she doesn't know if they're permanent residents, an expedition, or routine guests.

She has a plan for her next character to ensure his safety, at least past these stairs. If she succeeds, she will have overcome a real challenge, not a challenge of luck or a challenge for Alexander described by narration, but a challenge for her. Alexander's story, short and shallow, emerged, but she was playing a game, not telling a story.

I wasn't telling one either, but I've told it to you now.

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