Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Saga of Karlan, Episode One

My son (sonofsonsoftaurus) has been getting into gaming over time.  We've done some small superhero adventures with his creation Jalapeno and some small 40k learning games, besides nerd-themed board games like Dungeon.  More recently he's gotten his own small Ultramarine 40K army which he is slowly working on painting and has participated in a couple sessions of Pathfinder games with my regular group and had a blast.  He wanted to do a solo Pathfinder game, so we made up a half-orc barbarian for him, Karlan.  Since he would be alone at least to start we made him second level.  

My original plan was to take him through the old module In Search of the Unknown, an old favorite of mine but I could not locate my copy.  Instead I flipped through some old Dragon magazines and found The Creature of Rhyl by Kevin Knuth in Dragon #55 (November 1981).  Nice little low-level dungeon crawl.  Pathfinder characters tend to be much tougher than old Basic D&D characters, and there is an opportunity to pick up extra help during the adventure so I felt it would work out well.

For those who don't recall from 35 years ago, the background is that the country of Rhyl has been plagued by attacks by a flying creature for years, believed to be controlled by an evil wizard.  Recently it even attacked the palace and made off with the prince and a number of valuable items.  The army has tried to attack the wizard's lair but was fought off by bands of goblins in the mountains.  The king next turned to adventurers, figuring smaller groups might make it through where large forces fail.  None have succeeded yet though.  But they...were not Karlan!

I "Pathfinderized" the monsters a bit, mostly to make them compatible - AC that makes sense, some to hit bonuses instead of the old THACO by hit die tables, etc.  Still, a goblin doesn't last long against a brute with a minimum damage of 8 with his greataxe.  Karlan made short work of the half-dozen goblins he encountered, and with very minor diversions stumbled upon a route that bypassed 90% of the dungeon and right to the end encounter.  Some bad rolls trying to cross the underground stream swept him right to the lair of the white dragon (the Creature from the title).  The dragon is sleeping initially and Karlan only found him in the lair (it is quite large) a bit later, when battle ensued!

Old school dragons are pretty wimpy.  This one originally had 24HP, which would not cut it.  I beefed him up a bit, but not to full Pathfinder level, and figured he was still recovering from his battle with the wizard (spoiler).  Still, he would be a tough fight for Karlan.  When planning, I figured he would have rescued the dwarf fighters that had been captured by goblins elsewhere in the dungeon, but he completely bypassed that.  So no backup for our intrepid adventurer!

Karlan wins initiative, rages, and charges in swinging his axe at the beast's scaly neck.  20!  Oh my, this might be over quick.  He confirms the critical and deals a vicious wound to the throat of the dragon.  Had he rolled better on damage, he could have killed it with that one swing.  Oog.  I ruled that the neck wound nullified its breath weapon, and frost spills out from the wound uncontrollably.  Fortunately Karlan's quick reflexes keep him away from the deadly chill.  The dragon retaliates, wounding our hero, but Karlan slays it the following round.  Karlan Dragonslayer!

Where the dragon was sleeping there are various bones of people and animals, the more recently-slain evil wizard, lots of treasure and the specific items Karlan had been tasked with recovering.  No prince though (he could be found elsewhere in the dungeon).  Karlan has had enough of this place and figures this is good enough.  He stuffs the treasure and items into his backpack and sacks, and puts some bones into another sack.  Karlan has a cunning plan...

Not wanting to try to navigate the swift-moving stream again, especially laden down with treasure, he seeks another way out.  The hole in the ceiling that the dragon had used as an exit won't do, especially after his grappling hook and rope had been swept away in the stream.  He figures out the puzzle to get the elevator to work and manages to exit out without further incident, ignoring the rest of the dungeon.

As he comes back to civilization, he buys some fancy clothes, tears them up and tosses them in with the sack of bones.  He reports to the king, returns the requested items (scepter, crown, Rod [of Cancellation] and Medallion [of ESP]) and the bones, saying this is all that remains of the prince.  Karlan is rewarded, and as the king prepares to bury his "son", Karlan takes his loot and high tails it out of the Kingdom of Rhyl, looking for his next adventure!

Stay tuned for the further adventures of Karlan!

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