I’m beginning to find that a good session length with the kids is about one Encounter. Almost a week goes by before we finally continue the adventure, and we played this session just 45 minutes before bed-time.
* * * *
As the party turns back up the curved corridor, Puddlebug gabs excitedly about what he thinks might be the particular species of Giant Spider they’ve just encountered. “Perhaps a Giant Gray; they’re pretty common in this area. If I recall, their dens tend to have several exits, so we might still be seeing them around, unless of course, they are molting, in which case-”
Skye suddenly stops the party with a raised fist. She listens intently for something, and then says in a low voice, “Did anyone hear that? I think we’re being followed.” I get the kids to do Perception rolls, but no one hears anything.
“We just came from a dead-end,” points out Bulk. “Maybe a spider got out and is now tailing us?”
After several minutes, Skye motions for the party to continue, but now everyone is wary over what the woman might have heard. The party passes under the entrance hole and heads north up the corridor. “The corridor curves north, and then you come to an iron door set into the wall on the side of the corridor. The corridor continues onwards into the dark.”
Jojo sighs and takes the d20 I pass to her. I spend almost a minute scouring her character sheet for a ‘Lock picking’ skill, only to realise that it’s now called ‘Disable Device’. Shows you how long since I last GMed.
Jojo rolls the d20, but she fails at the lock picking, I mean, device disabling. “The lock is much too damaged with rust. You don’t manage to unlock it.”
It looks like the only way to get this door open is to break it down, and so everyone decides that Sharpblade and Bulk should ram the door down together. Evan rolls the d20, and groans when it turns up as a 1. “Both Sharpblade and Bulk charge at the door, and then accidentally trip over each others’ feet and crash clumsily into the wall on the side of the door!” We all laugh at Evan’s expense.
Skye informs them to stop clowning around when Puddlebug announces that he can hear something approaching down the northern corridor. “It must be attracted by the noise!” he says.
I turn to Mummy. “You detect evil approaching,” I tell her. “Most likely something undead.”
Evan says excitedly to Jojo, “Maybe it’s.. a skeleton!” The kids have asked me several times before what might happen if Sharpblade encounters another skeleton.
I shrug. “Could be just a zombie.”
Everyone arranges themselves with the fighters in front. I ask Evan what he wants to do and he announces that he’s going up the corridor to see what it is. “You sure? Leaving everyone behind and going by yourself might not be a good idea, Ev.”
Nothing persuades him otherwise, and so Sharpblade marches up the corridor. “You can definitely hear the tap-tap footsteps of something walking towards you. And when you get close enough, you see what it is. It’s a skeleton!”
Evan cheers, “Yayy!”.
Evan says, “I wait for it to come closer!”
The skeleton lurches towards Sharpblade, and I roll a d20 and it comes up 17. “The skeleton reaches Sharpblade, and then walks right past him!”
“Woo hoo-oo! I’m INVISIBLE!” The kids are thrilled that Sharpblade seems undetectable by other skeletons. Sharpblade further demonstrates this by shoving the skeleton from behind. The undead creature stumbles but manages to resume its ponderous walk towards the rest of the party.
“Sharpblade, you hear more sounds up the corridor, and you turn to see two more skeletons walking towards you!” Sharpblade goes up to meet them, and I roll the d20 twice. 6 and 2. Hmm. “These skeletons snarl when they see you, and raise their scimitars to attack!”
Meanwhile, the first skeleton reaches the rest of the party, and Mummy decides to try out her Channel Energy ability which heals living creatures and destroys undead ones. She rolls a d6 and gets a 1. “You raise your holy symbol, and a bright flare lances out and hits the skeleton. Bits of it rapidly decays, but the skeleton is still standing!”
Lexi attacks the skeleton with her rapier, only to have the damage ignored by the creature’s damage reduction. “You need to use one of these,” calls out Bulk as he hefts his large mace. The half-orc smashes into the skeleton, and bits of bone fly everywhere.
Back with Sharpblade, the skeletons’ attacks glance off his armour. Evan, however, is still determined to test out his ‘undetectability’. He pushes at one, only to have it strike against him in response. I hold up the d20 and tell him, “Why do you think I’m rolling this whenever you meet a skeleton? Perhaps it’s because some skeletons can detect you, and some skeletons can’t!” Evan gets the point and finally draws his warhammer out to attack.
Mummy’s cleric doesn’t seem to be having much luck (or faith, depending on how you look at it) with her Channel Energy blasts. It takes another three blasts before the first skeleton disintegrates into a bony pile. The rest of the party comes up to engage the other two skeletons fighting Sharpblade. After several rounds of combat, the skeletons finally succumb to the last shot from the cleric’s Channel Energy blast.
“Kyra detects that there are more skeletons up ahead, but they aren’t moving. They’ve probably not detected you guys yet.”
Sharpblade is keen to go meet them, but the others vote to retreat back to the iron door. It’s close to bed-time now, but everyone decides to at least see what’s on the other side of the door before finishing the session.
Sharpblade and Bulk smash the door down successfully. “The other side of the door reveals a strange room. It has walls curving up into the ceiling, and is slightly rectangular. On the other end of the room, you see another iron door similar to the one you just broke down. The whole floor of this room, however, is a large rusty iron grate. Just a few feet under the grate, you can see that it’s all flooded with water. The water is too murky to see through.” I also describe that the iron grate floor looks quite unstable, and draw a hole near the middle of the room where it looks like the iron bars have given way.
|What a strange, strange room|
This encounter was supposed to be the cleric’s defining moment, but I must say that Channel Energy is pretty weak given that it only does 1d6 damage, and the skeletons get a saving throw for half damage. It would have been funny if Mummy caught Sharpblade in her blast, but as it was, he was mostly out of the way.
Also, by now I realise that I’ve got a problem. Evan is playing a skeleton character, and I’m fine with him having the traits of a regular skeleton, such as poison immunity, functioning underwater, etc. However, so far, I’ve completely overlooked the damage reduction that skeletons have against non-bludgeoning weapons.
On one hand, I want to let his character function as closely as possible to a regular skeleton. On the other hand, a lot of CR1-3 creatures are going to have a tough time against that damage reduction, and I don’t want to make it too much like a cake-walk for him.
So how would you handle a skeleton player character?
Plot hooks: Something’s following us, Skeleton group huddle?