In all honesty, the word 'Kallictakus' never came up throughout this entire adventure; we just referred to it as 'the Magic Key to open the watch-tower'. Jojo would have probably stumbled over by the 3rd syllable, so I didn't insist on it.
As detailed in the adventure book, this scenario has the adventurers going into a heavily guarded fort to obtain the Key, and then bring it back outside to release the Sheriff from the watch-tower. As a twist, once the adventurers have defeated the final ogre (there are two ogres) and picked up the Key, another group of monsters appear outside. I felt that this was too nasty a shock to spring on Jojo at the very end, so I modified the start of the adventure to give her some fair warning on what was possibly in the horizon. I also took the liberty to start Mialee and Lidda off with a few handy Cure Light and Medium Wound potions to supplement their lack of healing powers.
"So after you discover that the Sheriff is locked up in an old watch-tower, Mialee and Lidda travel back to the village to report on their findings. They also return some of the treasures and equipment they'd found (i.e. the stuff they couldn't cram into their knapsacks whistle), and the grateful villagers supply some of these potions to them. Mialee and Lidda make their way to the watch-tower." I place Mialee and Lidda in the grassy Start Area. "When you arrive, you see these guys." I place the two goblins, two gnolls and single bugbear in the same area.
Jojo's eyes widen. "What?"
I nod gravely. "Hmmm... yes, there're lots of monsters here. Oh, but wait! Someone is calling them from inside this doorway. (rough guttural voice) 'Hey you!! Go hunt for something to eat! We're hungry!!'. The monsters grumble and complain, but now they're all moving off into the forest. You wait till you don't hear them any more. It looks like this is the best time to enter now that they're gone!" I gave myself a mental pat on the back.
However, Jojo looks unconvinced. "Um. I wait for them to come back."
Hmm. Perhaps a little push. "Oh, Jojo! You hear someone going 'Psst! Up here!'. Looking up at this old watch-tower next to you, you see... the Sheriff! She looks down at Mialee and Lidda with relief, and says, 'The door to this watch-tower is magic! The only way to open it is with the Key inside the fort! Please get the key and get me out!'".
"Can I look at the door?"
"Of course." I hastily hammer together some details. "Um, the door is made out of stone, and has a flower-shaped key-hole in the middle of it." Inspiration started to gain steam. "And you also see drawings on the stone. Of flowers and vines. This tower must have been built by the elves long ago before it fell into ruin during the..."
"No, dad, the goblins must have drawn the flowers. To trick people into thinking that this is a nice place, but it really isn't."
Oh well, so much for my elegant elven carvings. The base of the watch-tower is now a vandalised ruin with crude goblin flower drawings. Heck, it works, so I forge on. "So it is! Oh well, Jojo, let's see what's in that first room, shall we?"
The first room is empty, and I'm pleased that Jojo's first action is to Find Traps. The room turns out to be quite safe, so the adventurers open the second door to the next room. Again, the girls cautiously search for traps, and are rewarded when they find several nasty Poison Dart Traps around. They skirt around them, and prepare to open the next door when...
The arrival of Reg-daaarrrrr
A week passes before we finally sit down to play out the rest of this adventure on a Saturday afternoon. This time, Evan (Jojo's 4yo brother) is with us, and he's hankering to play 'the monster game'. I assign him Regdar the Fighter (pronounced 'Reg-daaarrrrrr'). After some deliberation, it is decided that Regdar just turns up and Lidda passes him her equipment and goes off to keep the Sheriff company while Regdar and Mialee continue the search for the key.
I'd learnt some time back that the best way to introduce my kids to a new game is to start playing straight-away and explain the rules as we go along, so a slightly confused but excited Regdar takes the front-line with Mialee backing him up. "You open the next door -creeeaak!- and you both see a goblin, and a bugbear talking to -gasp!- a big smelly, nasty ogre! The ogre looks up in surprise and says, 'Oh ho! We've gots company!' He turns to the goblin and says, 'Go tells the big boss that we've got guests!' As the goblin scurries off, the bugbear goes, 'Lemme at em! Lemme at em!' and rushes towards the doorway!"
Evan is up first, so I hand him the dice to make a Power Attack with his Bone Cleaver. "Roll these, and don't roll a Star."
"Or it'll break!" pipes up Jojo helpfully.
Evan makes his very first roll, and inflicts a significant 3 damage over the bugbear's AC with no Star. "Good job, Evan! Regdar smashes into the bugbear like this -Pow! Pow! Pow!-" Regdar's second attack is just as impressive, and by the next round, the bugbear is knocked out! ("Is it nap time yet? Urrrrggghhh...") We all high-five the amazing result.
|Evan rolls like this:
1. Pick up the dice
2. Wave dice around in hand before tossing them into box lid.
3. Pick up the dice that missed the box lid and try again.
Jojo takes the cue. "Regdar must have ducked! Oh wait! He must have hit it back with his sword! And sliced it in two!"
Feeling extremely macho by now, Regdar strides into the room to exchange blows with the ogre while Mialee shoots her bow. It's over in a couple of rounds, with Regdar taking some damage. In the very last blow to the ogre, the Bone Cleaver finally expires.
"You smash into the ogre, and he falls over -blam!-." We wobble the table legs for extra effect. "But, oh no! Regdar's Bone Cleaver has broken in two."
"But he draws out this Axe to replace it."
They loot the chests (with Jojo insisting on looting first). By now, Evan is full of inquisitive questions ("Why are we attacking the goblins? Why did the goblins steal things from the village? Why do I get hit so much?") to which I let Jojo fill him in (which were, respectively, "Because they were stealing things from the village. Because they were looking for their Magic Orb which went away because of the goblin's underwear. Because you're in front.") The last answer seemed to satisfy something in Evan's mind, so we continue to the next door.
"In this next room, you hear the sounds of two goblins chatting next to these three chests. One's going, 'One, uh two, uh.. I lost count.' And the other goes, 'Clot head! It's one, uh two, uh..'"
The kids giggle. "They can't even count to three!" They make short work on the goblins (one of whom falls on the third chest and exclaims, 'Oh! Three!' before expiring) They open the door to the room with the final Ogre boss.
"In here, you see a strange wall of pillars in the corner. And you see the goblin who had scurried off earlier. He's trembling fearfully as he's talking to... the biggest, nastiest, smelliest ogre you've ever seen! And he has two bugbear guards with him! The ogre growls, "What!? They're here!? Let's smash them into mince meat!!'"
Evan take first Initiative, so he steps straight into the room, and decides to step behind the pillars. "Trap!" I announce and Jojo groans. "The moment Regdar steps behind this pillar, the ogre and the bugbears go, 'No no no! Don't go in there!!' There's a strange rumbling noise, and then fire erupts from cracks at the top of these pillars! It covers the whole room, and everybody in it gets burnt and loses 1 hitpoint!"
The fight was fairly long (the kids broke for a nap halfway through), fairly damaging (the kids downed both their potions of Cure Light Wounds and Cure Medium Wounds), and had fairly odd moments (Evan forgot about the Furnace, as we called it, and moved back into it, burning everything in the room again). The goblin didn't get into the fight at all and was cheering blood-thirstily from the back of the room until Jojo got annoyed enough to take it out with her bow. In the end, the ogre collapses in another big table-leg shuddering crash, and the two heroes advance to the next room to loot the six treasure chests. Evan finds a Poisoned Dart Blowpipe decorated with symbols of red scorpions and announces that he's found a 'Lobster Gun'. It's interesting that as Jojo finds more of the same Level 1 Treasures, she chucks them aside as junk. Oh well, it'll be time soon for Level 2 Treasures in the next adventure.
|Regdar in the Furnace
"And in the very last room, you see a pedestal on which lies the Magic Key to the watch-tower!" Cheers. "And better still, you see absolutely nothing here guarding it! Surely, it must be safe!" whistle
Jojo searches and finds 3 Poison Dart traps before a big Hand result stops her. As predicted, she goes to Plan B and turns to her brother, "You go in first."
Evan creeps into the room, his every step watched by his sister and his dad. He goes around the first traps, and steps straight into the next one. "Trap! Out of these holes in the walls, poison darts shoot out -pew! pew!- and hit Regdar for 2 damage!" Grimacing, Regdar gets to the pedestal, and in classic Indiana Jones fashion, swipes the Key and looks around to see if anything else happens. As he makes his way back, he springs another volley of poison darts which bring him down to 1 HP. There is much relief once he gets back to the doorway where Mialee is waiting.
"Hooray! You've got the Key to the watch-tower and now you can... uh oh! Remember those monsters that went hunting? It looks like they're back!" I trot the monsters back into the grassy clearing and set them up camp-fire style. "The bugbear growls at one of the goblins, 'Go and tells that dinner is ready!', and the grumbling goblin slowly makes his way back into the fort."
By now, I had a plan about how the kids were going to deal with this final group of monsters, and I explain to the kids that their best chance is to ambush them one at a time. And then I had to explain what the word 'ambush' meant. "If you hide somewhere like next to a doorway, you can surprise that goblin coming in and attack him." After some deliberation between them, the kids choose to hide next to the doorway in the 4th room, and watch with nervous fits as I trotted the goblin closer and closer. He steps through the door and both the kids yell, "BOO!" before laying into him with axe and arrow. The surprised goblin is down before he can react, and the kids high-five and wait for their next victim.
"This time, the bugbear is annoyed and sends one of the gnolls along with another goblin." I walk both the figures in with the gnoll in front. This time, it takes an extra round to down the gnoll, and the goblin turns to flee. "He's running back to the front door! If he gets out, he'll warn the others!" Jojo rushes Mialee after the fleeing goblin while Regdar limps behind with his 4 Movement. There are only two opportunities to shoot, and incredibly, Mialee manages to down the goblin with her bow just two squares away from the front-door. The adventurers breathe a sigh to relief and take up positions as I send in the last two grumbling monsters one after the other. The kids easily dispatch them and make their way to the watch-tower to release the Sheriff.
This adventure was brought to you by the letter 'J'
"And when you hold the Key just in front of the flower-shaped keyhole, the Key vibrates, and little sections open up in front of it, twisting and turning until it exactly forms the flower-shape of the keyhole! You push in the Key, and the door opens. The Sheriff steps out and thanks you all for rescuing her and defeating the evil ogres and their goblins! Congratulations, guys! You're now both at Level 2!"
For emphasis, I push up their hitpoint and spell point markers to show what Level 2 entails, earning "oooo"s from them. The kids survey the higher level Treasure cards and other monsters and I half-mindedly answer their random questions while I pack the game away.
"What's this, dad?"
"A magic orb that finds all traps in the room."
"How about this?"
"A jelly monster."
"Where's the figure for the jelly monster?"
"There isn't one. You use this chit here to show it."
"Does it eat jelly?"
"No, it's not like Cookie Monster. It eats weapons."
Evan rushes off to inform his mother about their successful mission. "Mummy! We won the game! And I was a fire-fighter!"
"Dad?" Jojo asks me very earnestly. "In the next adventure game we play? I want to control the monsters."
Somewhere inside me, the DM-side starts going What? How is she going to plan out the traps, and the monster positions, and- but the Dad-side knuckles the DM-side on the arm. "Yeap, sure, Jojo. Why not?"