1st S&W White Box – Family TPK

Wolf Rock is a large rocky hill a few miles outside of town that legend says was once the location of a great tower. Ruined foundations can still be found on Wolf Rock, but the tower has been gone for a century or more. A decade or so ago a band of adventurers appeared in town with gold they said they had plundered from a labyrinth under Wolf Rock, and after resting and rearming they set off to get more. They were never seen again. Since then, Wolf Rock has been avoided by all. Over the years, a number of strange events and even some disappearances have been linked to the place, but no one has dared to investigate.

Recently, a local woodsman was caught in a terrible storm, and with nowhere else to go, he took shelter under some stones leaning against each other on Wolf Rock. He discovered a small tunnel that led into the hill. He poked his head in and saw steps disappearing into darkness, and has guided the PCs and two men-at-arms to the spot for 10gp.

After weeks of waiting, we finally managed to start up our first S&W White Box game tonight, a small campaign I’m calling Below Wolf Rock. My wife (who hasn’t played since a little 2e more than 15 years ago) and my two kids (who have been playing Labyrinth Lord) all rolled up new PCs. It took a little longer than I expected, mostly because of questions about WB that we hadn’t considered, but soon a magic-user, a cleric, and a dwarf were ready to begin their careers as adventurers seeking gold and glory.

The party:
Felix Fireball, a magic-user – played by my son
Dreythin, a cleric – played by my daughter
Castra, a female dwarf – played by my wife

The dwarf entered first and saw that all was clear. The rest of the party followed and they headed down the stairs. They soon discovered a heavy iron-bound wooden door but were unable to open it. Deciding it must be locked, they moved on. A bit further on down the corridor, they came to a side passage and a strange metal lever sticking out of the corridor wall. They checked out the lever but did not touch it. After a quick discussion, they headed down the side passage to where they had seen a couple of doors.

They opened the first door to find a chamber with 8 goblins inside. Seven of the gobs grabbed swords and prepared to attack while the last picked up a curved horn. Seeing this, the magic-user hurled a spear at the goblin with the horn [all classes can use all weapons in our WB game] and killed it. At that point, everything went downhill for the party.

None of the rest of the party landed any hits in the first round, though the goblins did little better. The next round, the party won initiative again, but everyone missed again. This time around, the goblins didn’t do so badly and at the end of the round only one of the men-at-arms was still standing. The gobs finished him off the next round.

We played for a total of less than twenty minutes. I make most of my rolls in the open, so I couldn’t have fudged things much even if I had wanted to. After the first hit against the horn-blower by my son, the party missed 9 consecutive attack rolls against normal goblins. That doesn’t usually bode well for anyone.

I was pretty excited about having the whole family adventuring together, and I was also liking the idea of not needing to run any NPCs. I had the players control the men-at-arms, just noting that I reserved the right to veto anything I thought was out of line.

I hadn’t intended to play a long session at all, but I didn’t mean to keep things short by killing everyone.

The only possible out I have at this point is the fact that all three of the PCs were only knocked unconscious, not killed outright, and are probably prisoners of the goblins right now. This band of goblins is actually already holding a dwarf prisoner, and a possible random encounter in the dungeon is a group of dwarves searching for their missing comrade. I’m trying to decide if I can cook up some sort of rescue by the dwarves or if these characters are simply more victims of the ruins Below Wolf Rock.

Regardless, there will be more Wolf Rock in the near future.

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5 Responses to 1st S&W White Box – Family TPK

  1. I don’t know how your kids approach things, but in my experience, there’s nothing more detrimental to a young one’s continued interest in playing any game than losing – and losing a character is generally more personal than losing at a board game. On the other hand, even adult players can find escaping from the clutches of their captors a rewarding gaming experience that’s hard to match.

    (In fact, I ran a game for my sons and their friends a couple of years ago that resulted in a TPK – which I promptly declared to mean that the characters had been K-O’d and captured. They had a blast organizing and executing an escape from their orc captors. It was certainly a better experience than having all of their characters die ignominious deaths…)

    • Kilgore says:

      In this particular case, the PCs WERE K-Od and captured. What I’m thinking of doing now, based off a suggestion on the S&W boards, is to have the players roll up new PCs for a rescue attempt. If they succeed, they can choose to play either their new PC or their old one. Either way, the other PC will be held “in reserve.”

      I agree that it’s a fine line between playing tough and playing so they lose interest.

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